Afsar eyes BNP vote bank | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 27, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 27, 2012

Gazipur By-Polls

Afsar eyes BNP vote bank

BNP supporters asked not to caste votes

With only two days left before polling gets underway, independent candidate Afsaruddin Ahmad is keen to get the BNP vote bank in his favour, while the main opposition party is asking its supporters not to vote in the Gazipur-4 by-polls.
The BNP adopted this stance mainly to reflect poor public confidence in the Awami League, said local leaders of the party.
Electioneering for the September 30 by-polls will end at midnight today.
The main contest in the by-polls will be between AL dissident Afsaruddin and his niece and AL candidate Simin Hussain Rimi.
Afsaruddin is the younger brother of the country's first premier late Tajuddin Ahmad, while Rimi is the daughter of Tajuddin.
Locals believe that to win the race for parliament, Afsaruddin has to bag the BNP's votes as well as draw support from some Awami League supporters.
Sources close to Afsaruddin said the independent candidate was trying hard to get support from the local BNP leaders to ensure the opposition supporters cast their votes in his favour.
The BNP, however, fielded no candidate. Sources in the BNP said its National Standing Committee member ASM Hannan Shah in a written directive on September 22 asked all grassroots leaders to canvass for voters to boycott the by-polls.
Hannan is a former BNP MP from the constituency.
“If the voter turnout is 60 percent, the party will be able to put pressure on the government saying that people have no confidence in it and the Election Commission,” said a BNP leader seeking anonymity.
“We are totally confused about what to do. But it's true that if our voters go to the polling centres, most of them will vote for Afsaruddin,” he added.
The voter turnout at the 2008 general election here was 94 percent.
About the uncle-niece battle of the ballot, college teacher Anisur Rahman said people did not take it positively.
“People of Kapasia love Tajuddin and his family members. They will always remain in our heart. But the voters are now in a dilemma over making their choice as both Afsaruddin and Rimi are close family members of Tajuddin,” he mentioned.
Farid, owner of a tea stall, said although Rimi is the AL candidate, there were voters who consider Afsaruddin as a long time party man and close relative of Tajuddin.
An elderly customer at the tea stall said almost all the AL leaders were campaigning in favour of Rimi as Afsaruddin had not been living in his village since 2001.
Some other customers predicted that female voters would cast their votes for Rimi, which would be an advantage for her.
The third contestant in the by-polls is Asadullah Badal of the Communist Party of Bangladesh.
Talking to this correspondent, Badal said he was not worried about facing defeat in the election. “I want to work for the people.”
The JS seat fell vacant following the resignation of AL lawmaker Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj from parliament on July 7.
He also resigned as state minister for home on May 31, 2009.
POLLS FACTS
At the 1991 general polls, BNP leader ASM Hannan Shah won from Gazipur-4, while AL leader Afsaruddin won in 1996.
His nephew Sohel Taj, only son of Tajuddin Ahmad, won in 2001, defeating ASM Hannan Shah.
In 2008, Sohel Taj retained the seat by defeating the BNP candidate by over 60,000 votes.

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