Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad, known for his political somersaults, yet again staged a drama yesterday over selecting the party candidate for the Narayanganj-5 by polls.
Though he agreed to give the nomination to the candidate backed by his wife Raushan Ershad, who is the opposition leader in parliament, at the meeting of the JP parliamentary board, he picked Selim Osman, member of Naryanganj's controversial Osman family, as the party candidate after the meeting.
Interestingly, the latest back-flip of the former military strongman followed a closed-door meeting between him and Awami League lawmaker Shamim Osman, Selim's brother who allegedly helped flee Nur Hossain, the prime suspect in the sensational seven-murder case in Narayanganj.
The constituency fell vacant following the death of JP lawmaker Nasim Osman on April 30. The ruling AL has already decided not to nominate anyone for contesting the by-polls and to leave the seat for the JP.
With the by-polls set to be held on June 26, the Jatiya Party Parliamentary Board yesterday held a meeting at its Banani office to finalise the party's candidate.
According to meeting sources, Raushan Ershad took a position in favour of her political secretary Golam Masih, while Ershad wanted to pick Selim Osman, president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
In the wake of allegations of the Osman family's involvement in teenager Tanvir Mohammed Twaqi's murder, Raushan wanted to nominate a candidate from outside this family and with a clean image.
As most of the board members supported Raushan's stance, Ershad yielded to their demand.
"Emerging from the meeting, she told me that the chairman had already signed my nomination," Masih, who hails from Narayanganj, told The Daily Star.
However, once Raushan left the meeting, Ershad came up with a dramatic twist and the name of Selim Osman, who allegedly is not even a primary member of the party, was announced as the JP candidate for the by-polls.
Earlier, Selim, accompanied by his brother Shamim Osman, came to the party office to collect the nomination form. This was his first visit to the office, Masih said.
After that, Shamim held a closed-door meeting with Ershad for around 15 minutes.
Masih believes that it was during that meeting when Ershad decided to nominate Selim, instead of him.
"It is unfortunate that the chairman took a decision in favour of the Osman family despite the recent situation in Narayanganj," he said.
Contacted, JP Secretary General Ziauddin Bablu, who made the announcement, told The Daily Star that Selim Osman had been nominated by the party chairman and the board.
Before the January 5 elections, Masih had resigned from the party and become the secretary general of the faction of JP led by Kazi Zafar Ahmed. But he had returned to the party after the election.
When Ershad visited Narayanganj after the death of Nasim Osman, he urged all to vote for the candidate the JP would nominate, saying this would give peace to Nasim's departed soul. He also hinted at nominating someone from the Osman family.