The Jatiya Party is gradually losing its base in Rangpur, party chief Ershad's home district, due to feud among local leaders.
In the Rangpur City Corporation polls on Thursday, Md Sharfuddin Ahmed Jhantu emerged as winner, defeating closest rival Md Mostafizar Rahman Mostafa by 28,450 votes.
Jhantu, backed by Nagorik Committee, was unofficially declared as the first mayor of the city around 2:50am yesterday. He bagged 1,06,255 votes while Mostafa secured 77,805 votes from 178 centres.
Another mayoral candidate, ATM Abdur Rouf Manik, secured 37,208 votes.
Jhantu, Mostafa and Manik have one thing in common -- they are all former Jatiya Party leaders.
Back in 1990, Jhantu was elected chairman of Rangpur sadar upazila as a JP candidate. The upazila system was abolished in 1991 and revived in 1998.
In 1993, Jhantu, a JP favourite, won the mayoral polls of Rangpur municipality as a JP favourite. Later, he left the post and contested the parliamentary elections in 1996 with the party's ticket and became a lawmaker.
He joined Awami League in 2001, stood for the parliamentary election and lost it.
Jatiya Party leaders Mostafa and Manik were elected upazila chairman of Rangpur sadar and mayor of erstwhile Rangpur municipality respectively in 2009 and 2010.
In July this year, the Rangpur municipality turned into a city corporation.
The duo opposed the party decision to back Mosiur Rahman Ranga, president of Rangpur Jatiya Party, in the maiden city corporation election. Later, Ranga pulled out of the race at Ershad's instruction, party sources said.
Mostafa and Manik, both expelled from the party, fought the election.
Many locals now point out Ershad's filature in resolve the feud centring the election. They say Jhantu, an advisory committee member of Rangpur Awami League, bagged 1,06,255 votes while the other two got votes totalling 1,15,013.
Either Mostafa or Manik could have won the mayoral post, had any of them got the blessing of JP Chairman and former military ruler Ershad.
According to party insiders, many leaders like Sharfuddin Ahmed Jhantu and Nur Mohmmad Mondal left JP only because of intra-party feud.
JP secured all six constituencies in Rangpur in 2001 national elections.
In 2008, it took Rangpur-1, -2 and -3 and Awami League got the other three. However, the two parties were allies this time.
Jatiya Party in 2009 upazila parishad polls secured two out of eight upazilas; AL and independent candidates captured the rest.
Mosiur Rahman Ranga, also a JP presidium member, said let the city corporation polls be a lesson to the leaders, supporters and activists.
â€œThis lesson will be useful in the next general elections and restoring the base of JP,â€ he added.