Where no party has complete grip
Like Khulna division from which it was carved out, Barishal has been a swing division since 2001.
Records also show that since the 1996 polls, the first after Barishal became a division, the party that bagged the most seats there, won the national polls.
In the 1996 election, no parties had thumped supremacy there. The AL won the election nationally and had secured 11 seats out of 23 in Barishal. The BNP and the Jatiya Party had five seats each.
In 2001, the BNP-led four-party alliance had a landslide victory nationally and Barishal swung towards the alliance. The alliance grabbed 18 seats while the AL got two.
The AL with its alliance bounced back in the 2008 election and Barishal swung towards the AL giving it 18 seats out of 21 while the BNP-led alliance was able to obtain only three.
With the BNP not in the picture, AL got 16 seats in the 2014 polls.
Jatiya Party has lost ground in Barishal over the years. It bagged five seats in 1996, but failed to secure any seat in 2001. Forging alliance with the AL, the party was able to obtain two seats in 2008 and 2014.
The division was formed in 1993 with Barishal, Bhola, Patuakhali, Jhalakathi, Pirojpur, and Barguna districts.
Like other parts of the country, intra-party rivalry in the AL and the BNP is prevalent in Barishal.
At least 70 AL and 50 BNP leaders are vying for party tickets in the constituencies, reduced to 21 after the electoral map was redrawn ahead of the 2008 polls.
The aspirants are busy campaigning, lobbying, and putting up banners, festoons and posters.
Talking to The Daily Star recently, Talukder Md Yunus, AL general secretary of Barishal district, said, “Multiple candidates are competing for nomination as the Awami League is a big party. Everybody will work for the candidates who will be nomination by the party.”
Bilkis Jahan Shirin, the BNP's organising secretary in Barishal division, alleged that law enforcement agencies were obstructing her party workers from carrying out political activities.
"Yet, our party activists are preparing to contest the election. All will work as per the party's decision … whoever gets the nomination.”
In the six constituencies of Barishal district, at least 20 AL leaders and 13 BNP nomination aspirants are campaigning vigorously.
Barishal district unit AL President Abul Hasnat Abdullah, who is believed to have influence in AL units of southern region, is the heavyweight candidate in Barisal-1.
Other constituencies in the region have potential rebel problems. In Barishal-4 for instance, a group of AL leaders held a press conference in September alleging incumbent lawmaker Pankaj Debnath of indulging corruption and harassing party men.
In Barguna, at least 10 AL candidates and five BNP leaders are in the race for party tickets in the two constituencies there.
As a consequence, a group of AL leaders and activists declared Barguna-1 lawmaker Dhirendra Debnath Shambhu persona non grata in the constituency. At least five AL leaders are campaigning and lobbying for tickets there.
Potential rebels for the AL and BNP are fewer in Bhola. Some five AL's and six BNP's leaders are seeking tickets in the four constituencies. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed may run from Bhola-1.
In Jhalakathi, five AL and six BNP leaders are active on the ground. Senior AL leader and Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu is likely to contest from Jhalakathi-2
In Pirojpur, nine AL and 10 BNP leaders are trying to get party tickets in the three constituencies. Jatiya Party (Manju) chief Anwar Hossain Manju might run from Pirojpur-2. Convicted war criminal Delwar Hossain Sayedee's son Shamim Sayedee may run from Porojpur-1.
Intra-party conflict allegedly led to the killing of a Jubo League activist during a clash in Mothbaria (Pirojpur-3) constituency in July, 2016.
In Patuakhali, at least 22 AL and 11 BNP leaders are campaigning for party nominations in its four constituencies.