'Ignored' BNP leaders come up as Saifur era wanes in Moulvibazar | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 17, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 17, 2008

'Ignored' BNP leaders come up as Saifur era wanes in Moulvibazar


With Saifur era virtually on the wane in Moulvibazar BNP, senior and dedicated party leaders sidelined by him during his tenure are coming up in the leadership, party insiders said.
A major section of senior leaders now want former lawmaker and former president of district BNP Begum Khaleda Robbany as new president of the party unit. She was president of district BNP for 11 years earlier.
Her supporters also want her as next BNP candidate from Moulvibazar-3 constituency, from where Saifur's son Naser Rahman was elected in a by-election in 2001, which was boycotted by Awami League.
Name of Muazzem Hussain Matuk, another senior leader ignored by Saifur, is also being discussed in the party as an alternative candidate in the next parliament election, party sources said.
Muazzem Hussain, who was suspended from the party by Saifur's son Naser, told this correspondent that they were working to 'restore the party image' in Moulvibazar under the leadership of Begum Khaleda Robbany.
"We have started our activity to strengthen our party in Moulvibazar", Matuk said.
On Wednesday, senior BNP leaders of Moulvibazar held an informal meeting at the house of Khaleda Robbani. The meeting attended by eight of around 12 front ranking district leaders discussed organizational matters.
Some party men later told this correspondent that, among other issues, they informally discussed reorganising the district committee.
Talking to this correspondent, Khaleda Robbany admitted that party leaders and workers are contacting her from different areas of the district.
With a sense of grievance, she recalled 'hard days' of the party and said, “We organised the movement (against Ershad's dictatorship) to establish democracy. None came to see us then. None even agreed to take the post of president during that period”, he said.
“After 2001 election, none talked to me to select party leadership. Rule of a family started in Moulvibazar”, she said.
After long time, leadership of Moulvibazar district BNP is going in the hands of 'senior and tested leaders', some mid-level leaders said. Supporters of Saifur and (his son) Naser have no mental strength to hold the leadership, they said.
Saifur left the country to save himself from corruption case, a senior BNP leader said seeking anonymity.
They said Saifur's take over as acting chairman of a faction of BNP distanced him from party rank and file. Party men here did not give him the mandate to become 'so-called acting Chairman of a BNP fraction' and they 'rejected' him for his reform stance.
After become acting chairman, he tried to contact local leaders over phone, but was not properly responded to, even by some of his loyalists. This was beyond his imagination, some senior leaders told this correspondent.
Saifur was elected to parliament from three seats, two in Sylhet and one in his home district Moulvibazar. To give scope to his elder son Naser Rahman to go to parliament, he vacated his Moulvibazar-3 seat and nominated his son for the by-election in 2001, ignoring other competent and senior leaders, party men claimed.
Naser easily won the race as the by-election was boycotted by major political parties including Awami League.
After the election, Saifur made his son president of Moulvibazar district BNP by dropping senior leader advocate Ebadur Rahman Chaudhury. Naser Rahman thus became all in all in Moulvibazar.
His second son Shafiur Rahman Babu also became allegedly involved in corruption and is out of the country now, they said.
The BNP leaders alleged that Saifur ignored most of the senior leaders during 2001-2006.
Saifur enjoyed when, as minister, he was received by hundreds of motorbikes and other vehicles at the border point of Moulvibazar whenever he came, they said.
A number of Naser loyalists are now hiding for alleged corruption. Naser and his wife have been convicted in two cases and more corruption cases are pending against him, sources said.

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