Awami League's Nizam Hazari won in the January 5 elections unopposed from Feni-2 constituency and he took it all, the district unit of AL, the administration and even the BNP to some extent.
He took control of everything and had become a godfather just like former AL MP Jaynal Hazari did in the late 90's in the same constituency, locals and grassroots leaders of parties told The Daily Star.
The surprising fact is the top leaders of the BNP's Feni unit take permission from Nizam to carry out their programmes or else they face the ruling party MP's wrath. What's more, Feni is the birth place of BNP chief Khaleda Zia and it is considered by many as a BNP stronghold.
Nizam became the talk of the country after the murder of Ekramul Haq, chairman of Phulgazi upazila, on May 20. Many believe he had a hand in the murder carried out like a mafia hit in broad daylight in a Hollywood action film style.
And they had reasons to believe that too. The first person to shoot Ekramul was none other than Abid, Nizam's cousin, witnesses to the murder said, adding that the rest of the criminals were close to Nizam.
Nizam, however, took the high road when asked about this.
He told the Daily Star, "Those involved in the killing are murderers. It does not matter if they are my relatives or party men. I want their trial. I myself shall be liable, should my involvement in the murder be proved."
The dwellers of Feni Sadar went through the terror of Joynal Hazari from 1996 to 2001 when AL was in power. He had torture cells as well as the "class and steering committee", which virtually controlled the district.
His dominance disappeared with the Awami League losing the elections in 2001 and Joynal Hazari fled to India on August 17, 2001.
After Nizam's move to Feni from Chittagong, where he was involved in pro-AL student body Chhatra League, Nizami got involved in Feni Awami League in 2006.
In absence of Joynal, Nizam started becoming a powerful political figure. He had a strategy of getting all Joynal's men under his command. Ekramul, Dagonbhuiya upazila chairman Didarul Kabir Raton, AL leaders Jahangir Kabir Adel and Abdullah Hil Mahmud Shiblu were among them, locals and party grassroots said.
Nizami became the mayor of Feni municipality in 2010.
Such was the clout of Nizam then that despite being the lawmaker, BNP's Zainal Abdin, popularly known as VP Zainal, did not dare to say anything against Nizam, they said.
After the January 5 elections, Nizam reached the top of the district and established his dominance over everything in Feni under the patronisation of Alauddin Ahmed Chowdhury, former protocol officer of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, party insiders claimed.
Nizam began extending his influence to control tender bids, sand trade and the transport sector.
Alauddin Ahmed, first member of Feni district AL, told The Daily Star that he never helped anyone takeover anything. "Rather, I helped and guided a number of young leaders in constructive politics," he said, adding that he was not involved in active politics anymore.
Nizam, however, claimed something different. He said the district AL is united under the leadership of Alauddin.
Local leaders loyal to Nizam were included in the Feni district AL unit in December 2012. Abdur Rahman and Nizam were elected president and general secretary of the district AL.
There is almost nobody in the committee who dares to raise his or her voice against Nizam. Feni AL has no organisational activities and it is running under the wishes of Nizam, party insiders said.
NIZAM CONTROLS BNP
Mizanur Rahman, a BNP Feni district leader, said, “The top leaders of Feni district unit of BNP, including the president, general secretary and organising secretary, maintain liaison with the local AL MP.”
“We even have to call Nizam over the phone for permission before holding any rallies or bringing out any processions in the district as the BNP leaders here do not want to get into trouble,” he said.
Another BNP leader said cases have been filed against most of the BNP leaders of Feni during the last five years, apart from the top three leaders of the district, which suggests that they are in good terms with Nizam.
Alauddin Alal, president of BNP Feni municipality unit, said the failure of BNP leadership in Feni has led to this sorry state.