AL in city polls: Challenging in Barishal, smooth sailing in Khulna
The rift within the local Awami League has put its mayor nominee for Barishal city in a tight spot, while the party ticket holder in Khulna city should have an easy run since he has no strong opponents.
The polls to Barishal and Khulna city corporations are on June 12.
In Barishal, if the AL fails to resolve the feud between its mayor candidate Abul Khair Abdullah and incumbent Mayor Serniabat Sadiq Abdullah, the party may suffer a blow like it did in the recently held Gazipur city polls, said local AL leaders.
In the Gazipur City Corporation polls held on Thursday, AL candidate Azmat Ullah Khan lost to independent Zaida Khatun, mother of former GCC mayor Zahangir Alam.
Despite the intervention of central AL leaders, the dispute in Barishal AL rages on.
Tarun Chanda, former vice-president of Barishal city AL, said this conflict is an ominous sign for Barishal AL. There is a serious challenge ahead for the party if it does not take immediate steps to end the conflict.
If this situation continues, Islami Andolon Bangladesh (IAB) contender Syed Muhammad Faizul Karim may have the upper hand in the polls, said locals.
The much-hyped meeting between the central and Barishal AL leaders on Friday did not yield much fruit as Khair and his nephew Sadiq did not attend it.
From that meeting, the central AL leaders instructed leaders and activists of the party's Barishal units to work together to ensure victory of the party candidate.
But the faction loyal to Sadiq is largely absent on the campaign trail, said local AL sources.
Sources involved in Khair's campaign said Khair did not attend the Friday's meeting as most of the participants were Sadiq loyals.
The Sadiq-led faction of AL has so far remained aloof and they may vote in favor of the IAB candidate.
The Daily Star could not reach Sadiq for comments as his phone was found switched off.
Meanwhile, criticising the incumbent mayor yesterday, Khair said, "The mayor failed in all sectors. The city dwellers couldn't reach him when they needed to."
He made the remarks at a views-exchange meeting with members of Barishal Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Called last night, Rubel Hawlader, personal secretary of Khair, picked Khair's phone and said that Khair was in a meeting.
"Islami Andolon Bangladesh has the biggest vote bank after the ruling Awami League. Considering this, the Sadiq-led faction may silently extend its support to the Islami Andolon candidate," Rafiqul Alam, general secretary of Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) of Barishal unit, told The Daily Star.
Also IAB, which was founded by late Fazlul Karim, popularly known as Charmonai Pir, has a strong vote bank in Barishal since it was founded in Barishal and run from the city.
As the BNP boycotted the election, a faction of its supporters may favour the IAB mayor candidate, making it difficult for the AL contender to win the mayoral race.
Kamrul Ahsan Rupon, son of BNP leader and former mayor Ahsan Habib Kamal, is running as an independent.
In the Khulna City Corporation polls, the position of AL-nominated candidate Talukder Abdul Khaleque is quite the opposite.
No feud within the local AL is visible. Khaleque has a "clean image" and the major opposition BNP is not taking part in the election.
For this, it should be easy for the ruling AL candidate to win, say AL sources.
"We are conducting door-to-door campaigns. The local Awami League is united to get the party candidate elected," MDA Babul Rana, general secretary of the city AL, told this newspaper.
Talking to The Daily Star, Kudrat-e-Khuda, president of Khulna Sacheton Nagorik Committee, said, "A participatory and competitive election creates an environment of accountability. The absence of competition and accountability may give a sense of impunity to the elected persons, which may put the Khulna City Corporation in crisis."
[Our Barishal and Khulna correspondents contributed to this report.]