Five of six electoral constituencies in Rajshahi have lawmakers from the ruling Awami League. Three of these MPs are in one faction and two in another. The two groups are holding the party’s programmes separately of late. The district AL also has two offices.
District AL secretary and former MP Abdul Wadud does not get invitations in party programmes. He also faces hostility in the city unit too.
Opposition BNP is also in disarray over the feud. The convener of the district unit has been jailed for around four months. The rift reached its peak within leaders-activists of the city unit over the announcement of the convening committee in December 2021. They engaged in clashes and a complaint was made to the central unit of the party against the new committee’s member secretary. Since then, the party has been holding political programmes separately.
Liton vs MPs in AL
One faction of AL consists of Rajshahi-1 (Tanore-Godagari) MP Omar Faruque Chowdhury, Rajshahi-3 (Poba-Mohanpur) MP Ayen Uddin and Rajshahi-6 (Bagha-Charghat) MP and state minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam. District AL’s secretary Abdul Wadud and city unit secretary Dablu Sarker are also seen with them.
The two MPs from the other section are Rajshahi-4 (Bagmara) MP Enamul Haque and Rajshahi-5 (Puthia-Durgapur) MP Mansur Rahman. This faction is mainly adherent to Rajshahi mayor and AL’s presidium member AHM Khairuzzaman Liton. District unit’s former secretary Asaduzzaman is also seen with this faction. District AL president Anil Sarker does not attend political programmes regularly citing illness. Both the factions consider Anil is with them.
In a ‘peace rally’ last February in Puthia’s Baneshwar area, Abdul Wadud was chief speaker and Liton was chief guest. Wadud did not go to that programme and organised a counter rally. On 18 August, Puthia AL organised a programme marking the National Mourning Day. Liton was chief guest and MP Mansur was special guest. Abdul Wadud wasn’t invited to that event.
Some leaders, who have been MPs for a long time, along with a small coterie are trying to create a rift in the partyKhairuzzaman Liton, Rajshahi mayor
Asked about the rift in the party, mayor Liton told Prothom Alo, “Some leaders, who have been MPs for a long time, along with a small coterie are trying to create a rift in the party. I don’t want to comment on them.”
The mayor said he was not invited, and thus demeaned, at an event attended by the information minister in Bagha’s Arani area on 25 August.
Information minister Hasan Mahmud was the chief guest at the programme. Mayor Liton, MPs Enamul Haque and Mansur Rahman were not invited to the programme. Without mentioning names, Abdul Wadud came down heavily on leaders of a section of the party at the programme.
Asked about the issue, Abdul Wadud told Prothom Alo that Liton is their leader but the party’s presidium member Abdur Rahman is in the charge of the Rajshahi division.
“I was not invited to the mourning day event in Puthia. But that doesn’t matter,” he added.
Meanwhile, city unit’s secretary Dablu Sarker is a pariah in the party programmes for the last six month. A letter signed by 44 leaders including city unit president demanding Dablu’s suspension was sent to the central committee on 27 March. On the other hand, another letter signed by 34 leaders was sent to the central AL supporting Dablu. Meanwhile, Dablu was seen at the stage at the programme in Bagha on 25 August.
Dablu told Prothom Alo that the party leader (prime minister Sheikh Hasina) has told him to continue work for the party, yet he is sidelined from the programmes.
City unit AL’s president freedom fighter Mohammad Ali Kamal said they complained against Dablu Sarker for breaching party discipline. He added those who want to do Awami League politics in Rajshahi will have to do politics of AHM Kamruzzaman (Mayor Liton’s father).
Asked about the internal feud in the party, state minister Shahriar Alam told Prothom Alo, “Misunderstanding might appear while working for the party. But the frustrating thing is Liton bhai started sheltering and promoting those who are against the MPs and political post holders since he had become the party’s presidium member.”
He makes misleading comments about me and other MPs that don't behoove a presidium member. I feel embarrassed to make any explanation on the matter in the newspapers. Yet I’m making this comment so that the grassroots do not get misledShahriar Alam, MP and state minister
Shahriar alleged that Liton is sheltering the leaders who had contested against the AL nominated candidates in national election, district council and local government elections.
“He makes misleading comments about me and other MPs that don't behoove a presidium member. I feel embarrassed to make any explanation on the matter in the newspapers. Yet I’m making this comment so that the grassroots do not get misled. Our expectation is Liton bhai would remain respected and honoured by accommodating all as a son of Shaheed AHM Kamruzzaman, one of the four national leaders.”
BNP is uniting, resolving conflicts
BNP chairperson’s adviser and former mayor of Rajshahi Mizanur Rahman (Minu), former mayor and central leader Mosaddek Hossain (Bulbul) and Shafiqul Haque once were powerful leaders of Rajshahi BNP. Their views have been ignored and leadership has been handed over to untested leaders. Emerging leaders were also not given space in the committee. There is anger about this.
A leader of the party told Prothom Alo that those who were in the front line of BNP in the last 15 years were excluded from the committee and the non-political people who are close to a certain quarter were made leaders.
Asked about the situation, Mizanur Rahman said, “You better ask the leaders of the committee about it.”
Only 7 seven units out of 23 in the district have got a full-fledged committee. District BNP’s convener Abu Sayeed Chand is incarcerated. The district committee is in a soup due to these reasons
City unit’s convener Ershad Ali said, “The issue is resolved and so we are moving unitedly.”
The district BNP is being run by a convening committee for three years and 9 months. Only 7 seven units out of 23 in the district have got a full-fledged committee. District unit’s convener Abu Sayeed Chand is incarcerated. The district committee is in a soup due to these reasons.
On 9 December, 2021, a 9 member convening committee of the city BNP was announced. There was a protest against that committee. Later, the committee’s member secretary Mamun-or-Rashid approved a 61-member full committee from the centre that furthered the escalation.
On 6 June last year, an application was made to the central body of the party to remove the member secretary from the committee. The committee’s convener Irshad Ali, senior joint convener Nazrul Huda, joint conveners Delwar Hossain, Waliul Haque, Aslam Sarker, Bazlul Haque and Zainal Abedin signed the application.
The party insiders said BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman listened to the problem among the local leadership through a video call. He asked all leaders to become united.
Mamunur-Or-Rashid said the allegation of taking decisions bypassing the senior leaders is not true. All are cooperating and no crisis exists in the party.
Demand to change candidate in Sadar constituency
Workers Party of Bangladesh’s general secretary Fazle Hossain Badsha is the MP of Rajshahi-2 (Sadar) constituency. He won in the last three general elections from this constituency under AL-led Mohajote (grand alliance). The AL leaders in some recent programmes demanded a candidate from their own party in the next election.
About the demand of local AL leaders, Workers Party Rajshahi city unit’s secretary Debashis Pramanik said the 14-party alliance will field the candidate in this constituency, so expectations of others don’t have any value.
Jamaat-e-Islami has a support base in Rajshahi. The party leaders are ready to contest the election. Jamaat’s acting ameer (chief) Mozibur Rahman has already campaigned in Godagari upazila.
Godagari upazila Jamaat ameer Numayun Ali has said the party would take part in the election if held under a caretaker government.
Jaitya Party (JaPa) became fourth in the mayoral election in the last city corporation in Rajshahi. The party did not have any agents in the polling centers. JaPa, which is the main opposition party in the current parliament, is almost inactive in Rajshahi.
The party’s city unit convener Saiful Islam said they will take part in the next general election but it is not yet decided if the party would contest alone or under any alliance.