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BNP worries over party, ally rebels in Sylhet polls

BNP worries over party, ally rebels in Sylhet polls

Sylhet Office : The BNP has been caught in a cleft stick ahead of the Sylhet City Corporation election, said party insiders. Two rebel candidates from the party and an ally of the 20-party Alliance are set to contest the mayoral polls against the BNP’s official candidate, Ariful Haque Chowdhury, who is also the incumbent mayor.

The party’s central leaders have reason to be worried. One of the rebel candidates is Badruzzaman Selim, former city BNP general secretary, who has recently been expelled from the party. The other is Ehsanul Mahbub Zubair, ameer of the city Jamaat, a major partner of the BNP-led alliance.

The two may eat into the BNP’s vote share, thereby upsetting the party’s applecart, sources said.

However, putting on a brave face, the BNP’s mayoral candidate, Ariful Haque Chowdhury, said the presence of rebels would not affect his prospects as the party has nominated him to contest the polls.

Some party leaders expressed the hope that the two rebel candidates would finally withdraw their candidature.

Having failed to dissuade its leader from contesting the polls, the BNP, on Tuesday, expelled Badruzzaman Selim for violating party discipline. He is contesting the polls as an independent and his symbol is “bus”.

Selim said most of the party leaders and activists were against the incumbent mayor getting nomination this time, but he managed to get it. “My participation in the election is to protest against the party’s decision to select him (Chowdhury),” he said.

The rebel leader said that he has started campaigning by carrying out mass communication.

On possible division of votes, Selim said he was trying to prevent the ruling party from getting a chunk of the votes. “I am contesting the polls to protest against the party’s selection by sacrificing me,” he added.

Jamaat leader Zubair too is contesting the civic polls as an independent because his party’s registration has been cancelled. He has ignored requests of the 20-Party Alliance to stand down. His symbol is “table clock”.  Zubair said the 20-Party Alliance was formed for national elections, but he is contesting local govt polls.

He said the Jamaat extended its support to all mayoral candidates of the BNP and sought support of the alliance to contest the SCC polls. The Jamaat leader said he was continuing his election work in different areas of the city. Replying to a question, Zubair said there was more or less a congenial atmosphere in the city and hoped the situation would improve further in the coming days.

BNP vice-chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu said they were in touch with the two leaders and hoped that they would stay away from the polls for the sake of greater interest. “I’m still hopeful that they (Selim and Zubair) will stay away from the polls and extend support to the BNP candidate,” he added.

BNP–backed candidate Ariful Haque Chowdhury, said he was not worried about the rebel candidates as they were contesting as independents. “People have already decided who will be their candidate and why they should vote for him,” he added.

He conducted his election campaign at different shopping malls yesterday (Thursday). The Awami League has nominated former mayor Badar Uddin Kamran as its mayoral candidate.

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