Third faction in Sylhet BNP | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 23, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 23, 2008

Third faction in Sylhet BNP

Former president of district BNP MA Haque, once most trusted man of Saifur, leads the group

Saifur Rahman, MA Haque, Nasim Hossain and Ilyas Ali

Dogged by internal feud, Sylhet district BNP is now facing another split as some bigwigs in the committee led by once Saifur loyalist MA Haque have broken ranks with the BNP stalwart.
The simmering discontent in party leadership in the district had become apparent within months of BNP's assumption of power in 2001, leading to two factions. The bigger faction was led by party stalwart Saifur Rahman and the other by young lawmaker M Ilyas Ali.
Despite repeated attempts by some central leaders including the then secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, things remained the same till the last days of BNP-led alliance government in 2006.
Another faction has now surfaced in the changed political scenario, party insides told this correspondent.
MA Haque, former Sylhet district BNP chief and once most trusted man of Saifur, and some of his close companions are on the front line of the new faction, they said.
Haque, who was sidelined in the party after his defeat in Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) polls in 2003, has turned against Saifur, an influential member of the district committee said.
“All those people were once very close to Saifur”, he said meaning those with Haque now.
Talking to this correspondent, Haque said, “I was in BNP and will remain in BNP”. He avoided a direct reply when asked whether he and some other leaders went to Dhaka to met Delwar. But other party sources confirmed it.
Frustration was prevailing in the party rank and file over the years and it intensified in recent months, he said.
Leaders of the Haque-led new faction tried to meet newly appointed BNP secretary general Khondaker Delwar Hossain recently, but failed. Front ranking leaders with him include former district vice-president advocate Nurul Haque, former general secretary Abdul Kahir Chowdhury and Dr. Shahriar Hossain Chowdhury, party insiders claimed.
Grouping in Sylhet BNP surfaced first in late 2001 when Saifur fielded his son Naser Rahman for by-election in his Moulvibazar seat. Naser managed to win the polls but that was the beginning of the trouble in Sylhet BNP, they said.
The rift widened as young lawmaker Ilyas Ali, who enjoyed blessings of Hawa Bhaban, earned Siafur's wrath.
“Ilyas managed everything well in Dhaka but could not succeed here due to a strong pressure on party men by Saifur. It fuelled the division”, another front ranking leader in the district said.
Former central JCD (Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal) secretary Ilyas, with backing from Hawa Bbhaban, managed to bag the post of convener of Sylhet district BNP after the then district BNP president Haque was dropped from his party position as he lost the SCC polls.
Haque is also an arch rival of Ilyas.
The rivalry between the two actions (led by Saifur and Ilyas) intensified as Ilyas, despite several attempts, could not hold any convention of the district committee allegedly due to opposition by Saifur and his close aides.
Even, the then party secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan requested Saifur on three occasions to attend district BNP conference as chief guest, but he (Saifur) avoided on different pleas, the insiders said. This irritated Ilyas as he could not fulfill his aspiration of becoming president of the district committee.
The rivalry came in the open in mid- 2005 when two other lawmakers broke with Saifur.
Since then Sylhet district BNP is without any committee.
“Since the party stalwart (Saifur) assumed the position of acting party chairman and became a reformist, most of his loyalists distanced themselves from him”, a senior leader who held the post of vice-president said.
“They are rather engaged in communicating with leaders in the capital”.
“We want reforms, but that should be done keeping Khaleda Zia”, general secretary of Sylhet BNP Nasim Hossain said. “They do not have any problem even if Saifur is dropped”, he said.
Though an aspirant for the coming mayoral run, Nasism may not contest the polls without clearance from Khondaker Delwar, one of his close aides said.
Nasim has been silently campaigning for the polls and some young party leaders are with him, they said. The Election Commission is contemplating holding city corporation polls in April.
Ariful Haque Chowdhury, once very powerful in Sylhet BNP and most trusted man of Saifur, is in jail in some graft cases. Most of his young disciples are silent or passing bad days now.
On the other hand, young leader Shamsuzzaman Zaman, a former JCD leader and trusted man of Ilyas, was expelled from the party allegedly due to his stand against 'Saifur camp' prior to the SCC polls in 2003.
Zaman ran as an independent candidate in 2003 SCC polls and got 5,000 votes. Since is in the UK since then.
Meanwhile, central BNP office Secretary Rizvi Ahmed, on behalf of newly appointed party secretary general Khondaker Delwar, withdrew Zaman's expulsion through a letter.
Now, the Ilyas faction is being led by former district BNP general secretary advocate Abdul Gaffar, former Sylhet town BNP vice-president and ward commissioner Abdul Quaiyum Jalali Ponki, ex-president of district JCD Quamrul Huda Jaigirder, former district joint secretary Ali Ahmed and some others.
May be Delwar did not meet them as they were known Saifur loyalists earlier, party sources said.

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