Intra-party conflict major challenge
Long-lasting internal conflicts within the local Awami League and its dissidents have posed a serious challenge to party favourite Afzal Khan's prospects of winning the mayoral race in the maiden Comilla City Corporation polls on January 5.
Also, confusion reigns over the role of a few local AL lawmakers in Afzal's polls campaign. Many AL activists and voters believe that his fate will largely depend on the lawmakers' stance.
However, Afzal's main contender Monirul Hoque Sakku is enjoying widespread support from the leaders of the main opposition BNP, though he quit the party on December 7.
Several local BNP leaders insisted that Sakku, former joint secretary general of Comilla (south) BNP, had resigned from the party in consultation with the party high-ups.
Earlier, BNP decided not to back any candidate in the polls as the Election Commission declared to introduce electronic voting machines in all polling centres.
BNP leaders are confident that Sakku, also the last mayor of Comilla municipality, will win the polls race as he is a popular leader and the ruling AL is divided into many factions.
Nine candidates are fighting for the post of mayor of the newly-formed city corporation.
Talking to The Daily Star, many voters pointed finger at the role of local lawmaker trio AKM Bahauddin Bahar, Whip Mujibul Haque and AHM Mustafa Kamal, saying that much will depend on these influential persons.
The trio has long-running disputes with Afzal, joint convener of Comilla (south) unit AL.
Contacted, Bahar denied any conflict of interest in the party. “There is no conflict among us. I am working for him [Afzal] for a long time now.”
Kamal, convener of Comilla (south) AL, said they have asked all their party leaders to work jointly for Afzal.
Many AL leaders, however, said mayoral hopeful Noor-ur-Rahman Mahmud Tanin is blessed by Kamal.
At a party meeting at his village residence in Nangalkot on Thursday night, Kamal categorically denied the allegation.
According to party insiders, another candidate Anisur Rahman Mithu is enjoying support from Whip Mujibul, who refuted the allegation.
“The prime minister has backed Afzal Khan and that is why we will do our best to ensure his victory,” he said.
Both Tanin and Mithu have taken a strong stance against Afzal. Even they have turned down a party request made by Thursday's meeting for withdrawing from the mayoral race in favour of Afzal.
“There is no scope to quit the race. Rather Afzal Khan should quit as he is sick,” Tanin said yesterday.
Citizens of Comilla have decided not to vote him due to his family's bad reputation, mentioned Mithu.
Earlier, Afzal branded both of them as dummy candidates.
Meanwhile, Afzal yesterday campaigned in Nurpur Housing Estate area while Sakku was busy meeting people in Thakurpara, Ashoktola, Kasharipotti and Unaishar areas.