Babrul Hossain (Babul), once a well-known leader in Sylhet politics, is to contest for the office of mayor in the city election, according to his close associates.

They say Babul, who has been an expatriate for long, is on the way back from UK in order to join the election. If Sylhet's mayor, BNP leader Ariful Haque Choudhury, does not contest in the election, there are strong speculations in the city that Babrul will contest as his alternative.

Valiant freedom fighter Babrul Hossain has been chairman of Sylhet pourashava twice and founding chairman of the sadar upazila parishad. This former general secretary of district Chhatra League was an influential Awami League leader at one time. He later joined Jatiya Party and was made advisor to the party's chairman HM Ershad. He is now distanced from active politics.

Several attempts were made to contact Babrul Hossain over WhatsApp on Friday night, but there was no connection. However, this 74-year-old politician recently informed Prothom Alo over WhatsApp that many are requesting him to be mayoral candidate in the city election. He has not taken any final decision, considering his age, but he is giving the matter due consideration.

A source close of Babrul, on condition of anonymity, said that there are speculations that Ariful Haque Choudhury, elected mayor  with BNP nomination for two consecutive terms, will not contest in the polls  due to his party's decision not to join the election. If Ariful does not contend, this will create the chance of an easy win for the ruling party-nominated candidate and UK Awami League's general secretary Md Anwaruzzaman Chowdhury. And so the anti-Anwaruzzaman camp now wants to put Babrul up as candidate.

On condition of anonymity, a politician of Sylhet said when Babrul was in the country, along with being a people's representative, he was also a known face in Sylhet's social movements. He had won huge popularity locally by founding the organisation 'Jago Sylhet'. Even as an independent candidate, he will be able to create competition in the election.

After independence of the country, in the first pourashava election held in 1973, Sylhet district Chhatra League general secretary at the time Babrul Hossain was elected pourashava chairman. He was elected chairman again in 1977. In 1985, he was elected chairman in the first Sylhet sadar upazila parishad elections. When the world famous boxer Mohammed Ali visited Bangladesh, on 23 February 1978 Babrul Hossain accorded him a reception in Sylhet.

Several political sources said that the Sylhet City Corporation established in 2002, has been expanded from 27 wards to 42. Alongside being the chairman of Sylhet pourashava twice, he is the former chairman of the sadar upazila too. So even though the demarcation of the city corporation has expanded, he is well known to the people of the extended area due to his being former people's representative of the sadar upazila. Though he is an expatriate, he is not isolated. He often comes to the country and maintains good relations with many persons of the city. He will put this advantage to use in the election.

Babrul's associates are encouraging him to contest, taking certain factors into consideration. Firstly, if Ariful Haque Choudhury does not contest, all his votes will go in favour of Babrul. Secondly, as Awami League has nominated an expatriate leader, he will be able to gain advantage from the party's conflicts and rifts. Thirdly, Babrul is a well-known and popular personality in Sylhet city and the suburbs.