Vol. 5 Num 400 Wed. July 13, 2005  

Campaign heats up as Sunamganj-3 polls near

Electioneering is gaining momentum even in remote villages in Jagannathpur and South Sunamganj upazila as the date for by-election in Sunamganj-3 constituency is getting nearer. The by-polls will be held on July 20.

The Jatiya Sangsad seat fell vacant following the death of Awami League stalwart Abdus Samad Azad on April 27.

Although main opposition Awami League is not

participating in the polls, two party men are in the race with backing from party leaders in both the upazilas.

Candidates are now busy holding rallies and meeting people in different areas in the two upazilas. Market places and the two upazila headquarters are alive and have a festive look with posters hung and microphones blaring.

Political circles observed that the four-party ruling alliance seemed to have closed ranks and patched up internal feuds. The old conflicts between rival factions in AL is surfacing, they said.

There had been a longstanding dispute between factions

backed by two AL stalwarts--Samad Azad and Suranjit

Sengupta. Even after the death of Samad Azad, things remained as before, a number of party insiders told this correspondent yesterday.

"This is why we could not field one candidate in the by- election though the constituency is a stronghold of AL", a senior party leader in the area said seeking anonymity.

AL central leaders are not campaigning there as the party is boycotting the polls.

Samad Azad's son Azizus Samad Don, who was also interested in contesting the by-polls, is out of the race because of the internal feud, he said.

Nine candidates are in the race now. They include two independent runners from AL, one from the ruling alliance, one from Jatiya Party (Ershad), one from JP (Manju), one from Bikolpa Dhara led by former president and BNP leader Badrudozza Chowdhury and three independent candidates.

Four-party alliance candidate Moulana Shahinur Pasha Chowdhury, a young leader of Jamiat-e-Ulama-e Islam, fought the 2001 parliamentary polls and lost to Samad Azad with 5,636 votes.

He got the alliance ticket this time after hard lobbying. The alleged internal feud in Islamic Oikya Jote (IOJ) was a blessing for him.

A faction in IOJ tried to field Moulana Fayez Ahmed, General Secretary of UK unit of the party as a candidate. There were some aspirants from BNP also.

So, certain factions in IOJ and BNP may not work for Pasha this time, the political circles said.

MA Mannan is getting support of a strong faction of AL in the constituency. The pro-Samad Azad faction have joined the campaign for Mannan.

The former bureaucrat is enjoying a good position in the eight unions of South Sunamganj since he is the lone candidate from there.

He also may get support from other political camps. The ruling parties have no candidate from the area.

Lt Col (Retd) Syed Ali Ahmed who joined JP (Ershad) two months ago is also a strong candidate having good links with people in the area.

Nagorik Committee candidate Nazrul Islam, former chief of Sylhet district Jubo League, enjoys support of a faction backed by AL stalwart Suranjit Sengupta. Sources said Nazrul's links with student leaders will help him in the campaign and mobilising votes.

The other candidates include JP (Manju) nominee Iftekhar Limon, Bikolpa Dhara man Sayedur Rahman Chowdhury Rupa and independent runners-Krishak Mohammad Sadeque, Dewan Ferdousur Rahman and Ataur Rahman.

But the main contest is expected among alliance candidate Shahinur Pasha Chowdhury, MA Mannan and Md Nazrul Islam, the sources claimed. The JP nominee Lt. Col. Ali Ahmed also may be a factor for other runners.

However, some circles also say regionalism may be a factor as there is only one candidateMannan from the eight unions in South Sunamganj while the rest six are from Jagannathpur upazila.

Leading contestants in Sunamganj-3 by-polls (from top L-R) M A Mannan, Shahinur Pasha Chowdhury, (bottom L-R) Lt Col (rtd) Syed Ali Ahmed and Nazrul Islam. PHOTO: STAR