Vol. 5 Num 711 Mon. May 29, 2006  
Front Page

BNP clips Sylhet lawmakers' wings
Dissolves Ilyas-led district body; Saifur apparently comes out victor

The fierce rivalry between BNP lawmakers Saifur Rahman and M Ilyas Ali finally compelled the ruling party yesterday to dissolve the convening committee of its Sylhet district unit.

Though the party dissolved the committee led by Ilyas, it also limited the influence of veteran finance minister Saifur in party politics in the district.

Party lawmakers from Sylhet will now coordinate organisational activities in their respective consistencies, and thana BNP leaders in cooperation with central leaders will do the job in the areas that do not have party lawmakers, a BNP press release said yesterday.

"No lawmaker will interfere in party activities in areas other than his constituency," it added.

A BNP leader told The Daily Star that the party action would go in favour of Saifur but at the same time the senior leader will have no scope to interfere in BNP politics in Sylhet.

Dissolution of the convening committee followed Prime Minister and party chief Khaleda Zia's separate meetings with Saifur, Ilyas and Sylhet city BNP President Ariful Haq Chowdhury yesterday.

Party sources said Saifur was so angry with his junior rival Ilyas that he wanted to avoid yesterday's National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on health grounds. "The prime minister telephoned Saifur Rahman and assured him of taking steps to resolve the crisis," one leader said.

Khaleda held a close-door meeting with Saifur after the NEC meeting at the Planning Commission and summoned Ilyas and Ariful at her office in the afternoon. At the meetings, both the feuding leaders complained against each other, and the party chief asked them to refrain from intra-party bickering, sources said.

"I have informed the prime minister about my grievances and she has assured me of looking into the matter," Saifur told reporters after the NEC meeting. He said this when asked about his reported threat to resign if the party did not take punitive action against Ilyas.

When contacted, Ilyas said he had talks the BNP chairperson on organisational matters in Sylhet district. He declined to comment on discord with Saifur.

Earlier on May 28 last year, Sylhet BNP convening committee was suspended in the wake a spate of discord between loyalist of the two leaders.

In the latest conflict, some activists reportedly backed by Ariful (loyal to Saifur) ransacked the residence of Ilyas at Sylhet on Wednesday following his reported remarks on the finance minister.

The rival sides clashed in the city next day and activists backed by Ilyas demonstrated against the finance minister, blaming him for the attack on Ilyas' house.

Aggrieved at this, Saifur threatened to resign unless action was not taken against Ilyas.