B’baria By-Polls: AL ‘clears the way’ for ex-BNP leader
Following the directives of Awami League high-ups, three local party leaders, who were running in the by-polls to Brahmanbaria-2 (Sarail-Ashuganj) as independents, yesterday withdrew from the race.
The move by the ruling party would make it easier for expelled BNP leader Abdus Sattar Bhuiyan to win the February 1 by-election as an independent, said local voters.
The three AL leaders are Md Moin Uddin Moin and Mahbubul Bari Chowdhury Montu, former joint secretaries of Brahmanbaria district AL; and Shajahan Alam Saju, a former leader of Chhatra League.
Today is the last day for withdrawal of candidacy.
"One of our senior party leaders called me on Friday afternoon and asked me to hold a meeting with the three candidates to make sure that they withdraw their candidacies within 24 hours," said Al Mamun Sarker, general secretary of Brahmanbaria district AL.
He said the AL didn't nominate anyone for the by-election and that's why the three leaders were in the race as independents. This led to divisions in the party's grassroots, he added.
"As the next national election is only about a year away, we don't want to see any division in our grassroots. That's why our party high-ups have decided to keep the party men away from the by-polls," Mamun told The Daily Star over the phone yesterday evening.
Seeking anonymity, several local AL leaders told this correspondent that some senior party leaders of the district, following the directives of the high-ups, held a meeting with the three candidates and asked them to withdraw by yesterday.
Contacted, Moin said the tenure of the current parliament would expire within only about a year. "If I am elected a lawmaker, I will have very little time for taking up development works in my constituency. Thus, I will not be able to meet the voters' expectations.
"Considering the circumstances, I have decided not to contest in the by-polls. I have withdrawn my candidacy around 11:00am today [yesterday]," he told The Daily Star.
Mahbubul said, "If I win the by-election, I will be a lawmaker only for about a year. Furthermore, I'm not well. That's why I have decided to quit the race."
Another candidate Shajahan Alam claimed that he was not under pressure from any quarters to withdraw. "I myself have decided not to take part in the by-polls."
Except Sattar, four other candidates are now in the race, according to sources at the Returning Officer's office. They are Jatiya Party's Abdul Hamid Bhasani, Zaker Party's Jahirul Islam Juel, and two independents -- JP rebel Ziaul Haque Mridha and local BNP leader Abu Asif.
On December 10 last year, the BNP at its Dhaka divisional rally in the capital's Golapbagh announced that seven of its lawmakers, including Sattar, would resign from parliament.
Subsequently, the MPs submitted their resignations to Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury. Among the seven are Rumeen Farhana, a lawmaker from a reserved seat for women.
The Parliament Secretariat later issued a gazette notification declaring the seven seats vacant.
On December 18, the Election Commission announced the schedule for the by-polls to six constituencies.
Sattar on December 29 submitted his resignation letter, citing personal reasons, to the BNP chief's Gulshan office.
The former MP on January 1 collected nomination form to contest the by-polls as an independent candidate. Hours later, he was removed from all posts of the BNP for "violating party decisions and engaging in anti-party activities".
Sattar, a former adviser to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, was elected MP five times from different constituencies in Brahmanbaria and Cumilla with BNP tickets.