The campaigning by those seeking Awami League’s nomination to contest in the upcoming general election, for Munshiganj 2 (Tongibari-Louhajong) constituency, is underway.
Some of the heavy-duty nomination seekers of this constituency are: incumbent Munshiganj 2 lawmaker Sagufta Yasmin Emily, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, district Awami League General Secretary Lutfor Rahman, and Joint General Secretary Advocate Sohana Tahmina.
Among these four, Sagufta and Mahbubey Alam are presently campaigning to secure the ruling party’s nomination. They are busy with electioneering activities including mass rallies and public relations meetings.
Rivalry inside Awami League
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, several Awami League leaders admitted that rivalry between two prospective candidates has caused a rift in the party’s local unit.
On September 2, the rift became publicly apparent when supporters of Sagufta and Mahbubey Alam engaged in a heated argument at a Janmashtami Puja event in Louhajong.
Both groups blamed each other for the incident. One side released a press release, while the other held a press conference.
Later, a general diary was filed with Tongibari police station on behalf of the attorney general, for allegations that posters and banners featuring Mahbubey Alam are being removed.
At a mass gathering, on Sunday, in Tongibari Upazila, the attorney general complained against the incumbent lawmaker, saying: “Sagufta Yasmin and her supporters claim that I am not a member of the Awami League.
“But, if I am not a member, how am I working as the attorney general for the past ten years? They are trying to hinder me.”
He continued: “Sagufta seeks the nomination, and so do I. But I am not hindering her in any way. I already have the support of around 76% of Awami League leaders and activists from Tongibari—and 50% from Louhajong. I can honour their support if I am nominated and elected.”
Local unit Awami League leaders and activists are not unified behind one candidate—effectively weakening the party at all levels of the constituency.
Tongibari upazila Awami League President Zoglul Haldar said: “If we had only one nomination- seeker, it would have allowed the upazila committee to send a resolution supporting that person. But we presently have four prospective candidates, so we cannot do that yet.
“Local leaders and activists are supporting the person they like.”
He continued: “We believe that the attorney general will be nominated for Munshiganj 2 constituency, as he is one of most the reliable people the government presently has. No other attorney general has served a tenure longer than Mahbubey Alam—which is ten years.
“However, the incumbent lawmaker for this constituency has won two consecutive terms, and was previously a lawmaker in the reserved female seat.”
Meanwhile, Louhajong upazila Awami League President Osman Gani Talukder told the Dhaka Tribune: “There is an internal dispute in the party, but it will be resolved as soon as a candidate is nominated. After that, each of us will work for the boat symbol.
“We are assuming that the BNP will participate in the next parliamentary election. Incumbent MP Sagufta Yasmin Emily would do well against the BNP candidate. The attorney general would also be a good candidate, but most committee members are supporting Sagufta for the polls.”
Commenting on the issue, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said: “It is normal for an incumbent lawmaker to discard the idea of someone else contesting in her constituency instead of herself. But, the party will nominate a person after having considered all possibilities.
“Once a person is nominated, all party leaders and activists will lend their full support to that person.”
The Dhaka Tribune made several attempts to reach lawmaker Sagufta by phone for her comments on the matter, but her personal secretary said the MP was ill and resting.
District General Secretary for Awami League, Lutfor Rahman said: “The rivalry between Sagufta and Mahbubey Alam has created a rift in the party. If I am nominated, this division will dissappear, and the party will become united again.”
On the other hand, district Joint General Secretary Advocate Sohana Tahmina said: “I have been an Awami League leader for years. I will continue to work for the people and for the boat symbol, whether I am nominated or not.
“I firmly believe that the party will lend its full support to whoever is nominated.”
The BNP is almost silent in their electioneering to secure a nomination for this seat.
However, there are reports of an internal dispute between district BNP President Abdul Hi and General Secretary Kamruzzaman Ratan— over establishing their dominance and forming the district committee.
Speaking with the correspondent, Ratan said: “The prospective candidates for Munshiganj 1 and 2 constituencies are yet to be finalized by the party—but BNP central committee Treasurer Mizanur Rahman Sinha is receiving the nomination for Munshiganj 2.”
Mizanur Rahman previously won this seat as a BNP candidate both in 1996 and 2001. He also served as the state minister for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in his second term as a lawmaker.
“If the BNP participates in the next election, and if I am nominated, I will contest for the seat of Munshiganj 2 constituency,” Mizanur told the correspondent.
Jatiya Party district committee President MD Kutubuddin Ahammed has also expressed an interest in participating in the polls—if nominated by his party.