Despite calls from Hasanul Haq Inu, the dissidents of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) stick to their decision to go on with their own faction, saying they are the "real JSD".
The socialist party, which saw splits on quite a few occasions since its birth in 1972, met with one more on Saturday night when a group of senior leaders, some of whom are incumbent lawmakers, announced a new committee rejecting the one led by Inu.
The JSD is a key component of the Awami League-led alliance and has six lawmakers in the current parliament -- Inu from Kushtia-2, Shirin Akter from Feni-1, Nazmul Haque Prodhan from Panchagarh-1, Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal from Chittagong-8, AKM Rezaul Karim Tansen from Bogra-4, and Lutfa Taher from the reserved seats for women.
According to sources, the contention began with the mode of election to the post of JSD general secretary at the party's two-day central council that ended at the capital's Mohanagar Natya Mancha on Saturday night.
Two names -- Shirin Akter and Nazmul Haque Prodhan -- were announced as the contenders for the post.
A total of 1,205 councillors were registered for the council and almost all of them were present at the venue, the sources said.
The councillors loyal to Inu, who got elected party president for the third time in a row through the council, demanded a voice vote while those loyal to Sharif Nurul Ambia, general secretary of the immediate past committee, and Badal demanded a secret ballot for the election.
Soon, a chaos ensued and at one stage, a few hundred councillors led by Ambia and Badal left the venue, sources said.
However, after they left, the council decided to hold a secret ballot and Shirin was elected general secretary with 603 votes. Pradhan got 137 votes.
The rebel group, meanwhile, held a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club and named Ambia as president, Prodhan as general secretary and Badal as executive president of their faction.
The three were made standing committee members of the Inu-led JSD, Shirin confirmed.
Badal, however, claimed it was Inu's autocracy and lack of financial transparency in the JSD that led to the party's split.
"His [Inu's] attitudes came under question several times after his becoming a minister," he said at a press conference at parliament building yesterday afternoon.
"Inu would create barriers for his general secretary Sharif Nurul Ambia to work properly."
Badal said four out six MPs and 10 of the 14 standing committee members were with their faction. Ambia and Prodhan were present at the press conference.
However, lawmakers Tansen and Lutfa Taher, who Badal claimed were with the rebel faction, could not be reached on their phones for comments despite repeated attempts.
JSD Standing Committee Member Prof Anwar Hossain said Lutfa Taher, widow of Anwar's brother Col Abu Taher, has been made vice-president of Inu-led committee and she was with the main party.
'REBEL COMMITTEE UNCONSTITUTIONAL'
Terming the Ambia-led committee unconstitutional, Inu said, "The party charter has no provision for forming a committee on the roads after boycotting the council session."
He was addressing a press conference at the JSD central office on the Bangabandhu Avenue yesterday afternoon.
On the proposal to quit the government, the JSD chief said his party would remain in the ruling alliance to continue its fight against militancy.
He then urged the rebel leaders to return to "the main party" to work unitedly to this end.
All the rebel leaders were given "important posts" in his party, Inu said. "I hope they will return and all their confusions will be dispelled."
The JSD was founded in 1972 under the leadership of Sirajul Alam Khan by breaking away from Bangladesh Chattra League, AL's student front.
The first major split the party experienced was in 1980 when Khalequazzaman Bhuiyan broke away and formed Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (BSD).
The next major crack came in 1985. Senior leader ASM Abdur Rab and his followers left the JSD and formed a new party -- Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rab).
JSD CHARTER AMENDED FOR INU
In the council, the JSD amended its constitution to make way for Inu, information minister of the current government, to become the president again.
He was first put at the party's helm through the 2002 council of the JSD and then re-elected president in the next council in 2010, according to new General Secretary Shirin Akter.
In the 2010 council, the party brought an amendment to its charter, barring anyone from becoming president twice in a row.
The councillors on Saturday unanimously approved the new amendment that annulled the previous one, and elected Inu the JSD chief once again.
According to council sources, JSD standing committee member Mustak Hossain raised a proposal that the party quit the government, saying it was losing its own identity and popularity.
The proposal was rejected by the councillors.
Mustak later joined Ambia and Badal in the rebel faction. He, however, was made a standing committee member in the Inu-led JSD.