Most AL rebels defy party ultimatum | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 11, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:04 AM, December 11, 2015

Despite ultimatum, most AL rebels stay in Bangladesh’s mayoral race

Rebel-backing MPs under scanner

Despite a strict ultimatum from the party high-command, a number of Awami League rebel candidates in the municipal polls refuse to give up their mayoral bids.

Though some of the dissenters are withdrawing their nominations fearing expulsion from the party, some remain determined to continue the run.

The Daily Star yesterday talked to 14 AL rebel candidates and only five of them either withdrew themselves from the elections or were planning to do so.

However, at a press conference at the party chief's Dhanmondi office yesterday, AL Organising Secretary Ahmod Hossain claimed that half of the rebel candidates had already applied for withdrawal of nominations.

The ruling party, meanwhile, has prepared a list of its lawmakers who are rallying around the rebels. The activities of the MPs are being monitored, AL sources said.

On the other hand, six of the 27 rebel mayor candidates of the BNP have promised to the party's central leadership to pull out from the race by Sunday, the deadline for withdrawing nominations.

The party, which sees this election as a scope for restoring its lost glory as an effective political player, will roll out "massive" campaigns for their mayor candidates from December 16, party sources said.

The BNP boycotted last year's general elections and ended up having no representation in parliament for the first time in the history of the country's parliamentary democracy.

Its effectiveness as a major political party came under question after two bouts of its anti-government movement -- first, surrounding the January 2014 polls and second, centring the first anniversary of the elections -- failed miserably.

The AL central command on Wednesday night gave its rebels 24 hours to quit their mayoral bids or face tough organisational actions including expulsion.

The notice was faxed to them immediately after the meeting chaired by AL President Sheikh Hasina at the Gono Bhaban.

However, AL rebels Saiful Islam Rana in Raozan municipality and Quamrul Islam Chowdhury in Rangunia of Chittagong vowed to contest the elections.

Safiul Alam, incumbent mayor of Sitakunda municipality of Chittagong, became a rebel candidate after failing to secure party ticket.

Following the party ultimatum, he decided to quit the party citing health issues. He said he would run for the mayor.

Nurunnabi Apu, AL dissident in Dewanganj municipality of Jamalpur too wants to stay in the race.

"I don't think I am a rebel. I am an independent candidate," he told The Daily Star.

In Jaldhaka municipality of Nilphamari, Ilias Hossain Bablu said he would not quit the run even if he was expelled from the party.

AL rebels Imani Ali in Shibganj municipality of Chapainawabganj, Al Mahmud Shanto in Khoksa of Kushtia and Abdul Halim Ukil in Nalitabari of Sherpur too choose to contest the elections despite the party ultimatum.

But not all AL rebels are as headstrong as them.

Ali Munsur in Darshona municipality of Chuadanga has already withdrawn from the mayoral race while Abul Khayer in Trishal of Mymensingh, and MA Aziz Hawlader in Muladi and Abu Saleh in Banaripara of Barisal have announced pullout from the elections in compliance with the party directives.

AL dissenter Jahangir Alam of Jibannagar municipality of Chuadanga said he was yet to decide whether he would give up his mayoral bid.

According to AL sources, the party initially had 75 rebel candidates but it has managed to dissuade 25 of them from contesting the December 30 polls. Of them, the party thinks 20-25 party dissidents are threats to the party favourites.

REBEL-BACKER MPs UNDER SCANNER

The AL has made a list of the lawmakers working for the rebel candidates, putting the party-backed contenders in a tight spot.

According to party sources, the MPs on the list include Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju of Narasingdi-2, Abul Kalam Azad of Jamalpur-1, Shamim Osman of Narayanganj-4, AM Naimur Rahman Durjoy of Manikganj-1, Mohibur Rahman Manik of Sunamganj-5 and Abdul Matin of Moulvibazar-2.

Abul Kalam Azad of Gaibandha-4, Shibli Sadique of Dinajpur-6, Manoranjan Shil Gopal of Dinajpur-1, Golam Mostofa of Nilphamari-3, Abdur Rouf of Kushtia-4, Mir Showkat Ali Badsha of Bagerhat-2, Mozammel Hossain of Bagerhat-4, Ali Azgor Tagor of Chuadanga-2, Kazi Nabil Ahmed of Jessore-3, Kabirul Hoque of Narail-1, Dhirendro Debnath Shambhu of Barguna-1 and Didarul Alam of Chittagong-4 too are on the lists.

The rest of the MPs being monitored by the party include ABM Fazley Karim Chowdhury of Chittagong-6, Abu Reza Muhammad Nezamuddin of  Chittagong-15, Golam Rabbani of Chapainawabganj-1, Mokbul Hossain of Pabna-3, Golam Faruk Khandakar Prince of Pabna-5, Hasibur Rahman Swopon of Siranganj-6, Shamsul Hoque Bhuiyan of Chandpur-4, Habibur Rahman of Bogra-5 and Mahjabeen Khaled (Women Constituency-18).

BNP PLANS MASSIVE CAMPAIGNS

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia will form 19 teams headed by senior party leaders to carry out campaigns from December 16 for the party favourites.

Khaleda, however, will not directly participate in the electioneering on security and health grounds, sources said.

On the rebel situation, BNP Joint Secretary General Mohammad Shajahan told The Daily Star that 27 dissidents were still active in the field.

"We have assigned the organising secretaries of seven divisions to convince the rebel candidates to withdraw their nominations," he said.

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