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Rebel camp clouds BNP hopes in Khagrachhari

MP Wadud sees no rival faction, says actions were taken for ‘illegal activities’ JASIM MAJUMDER, Khagrachhari
The Daily Star, October 04, 2006

Intra-party feud in BNP has taken a serious turn in Khagrachhari, threatening the four-party alliance’s prospect of retaining the Jatiya Sangsad seat in the coming election. The constituency comprises eight upazilas.

BNP won the seat for the first time in the ‘controversial’ election held in February 1996 when Wadud Bhuiyan defeated Jatiya Party candidate with a narrow margin. Awami League boycotted the polls.

Wadud lost to Awami League candidate Kalpa Ranjan Chakma with a wide margin in the election held in October 1996. Wadud regained the seat in 200l election.

The feud in BNP started after its victory. The party is now virtually split as membership of at least 50 ‘dedicated’ leaders at district and upazila levels were suspended at different times. Many of them are not even allowed to enter Khagarchhari by the lawmaker’s cadres, party sources alleged.

The suspended party men include district BNP president of Rajib Roy, former district council chairman and senior vice-president of BNP Nakkhatra Lal Devbarman, its secretary Muhammad Moniruzzaman, joint secretary Abu Bakr, organising secretary Nuruzzaman, district Jubo Dal president and district council member Harun-or-Rashid, Matiranga upazila BNP president and Matiranga Pourashava chairman Nasir Uddin, former chairman of Khagrachhari Pourashava Abul Kashem, Sadar upazila BNP secretary Rafiqul Islam, Panchhari upazila BNP president Amin Sharif, Dighinala upazila BNP president Zafar Ahmed, Manikchhari upazila BNP president M A Karim and Mohalchhari Upazila BNP president Anup Mohajon.

They were suspended for their ‘illegal activities’, claimed Nazrul Islam, press secretary of Khagrachhari BNP.

The ‘suspended’ leaders at a meeting held at a hotel in Chittagong on September 8 formed a rival committee led by Harun-or-Rashid as its convener. The committee will start political activities after the caretaker government takes over, its joint convenor Amin Sharif said.

At least 93 leaders from different units of the party in the district attended the meeting.

The rival committee is preparing to field a candidate to challenge Wadud in the coming election, Amin said.

Talking to this correspondent, Harun said party council was not held in last 14 years. The party is conducted by Wadud Bhuiyan and his men at their will, he alleged.

There is a 101-member district committee, which is in name only. “There is none in the committee except press secretary Nazrul Islam, student affairs secretary Belayet Hossen and the MP (Wadud) himself”, Harun said.

Most of the leaders have been driven out of the party on false allegations as they protested misdeeds by the lawmaker’s men, he alleged.

The lawmaker’s men are involved in corruption, grabbing minority community land, tender manipulation and other crimes, Harun alleged. He is surrounded by a handful of loyals who have grabbed lands in Comilla Tilla, Ambagan, Buyachhari, Hospital Gate, Khagrapur, Naimail, Panchhari, Matiranga, Manik-chhari, Tabalchhari, Laxmichhari, Harun alleged.

When contacted, district BNP press secretary Nazrul Islam, terming it an exaggerated claim said, “Some district committee leaders might have been involved in such activities but not all”.

There are a number of competent leaders in the new committee who will challenge Wadud Bhuiyan and seek alliance nomination in the coming election, Amin said.

The dissident group is preparing to hold a ‘grand rally’ after the caretaker government takes over, he said.

There is other aspirant alsoBNP leader Khagrachhari District Taskforce Chairman Samiron Dewan. But he does not belong to any of the factions, party sources said.

“He (Wadud Bhuiyan) is an outsider”, said senior vice- president of district BNP Nakkhatra Lal Dev Barmon.

Wadud loyalists however said he is an honest and popular leader. He always works for people. He has implemented many development projects in the district, they said.

The loyalists include district BNP press secretary Nazrul Islam, Jubo Dal president Abdus Salam, Khagrachhari pourashava chairman Joynal Abedin, Dighinala upazila BNP vice- president and Merung Union Parishad member Abdur Rahman, district BNP joint-secretary Mostafizur Rahman Millat, Sadar upazila BNP president M N Abser and Monjur Morshed.

They said Harun-or-Rashid and his supporters are not loyal to four-party alliance.

When contacted over phone, Wadud Bhuyan said, there is no existence of any rival faction in Khagrachhari BNP. It is not possible to form any legal committee without approval of the central committee, he said.

Asked about suspension, he said the actions were taken for their illegal activities.

He said membership of men like Nakkhatra lal Deva Barmon, Harun-or-Rashid and their followers were suspended as they were involved in illegal activities like taking money from people promising jobs and tender manipulation. Sadar BNP secretary Rafiqul Islam and some others were suspended for their anti-party and anti-social activities, the lawmaker said.

Asked about rivalry over nomination, he said, “Any eligible citizen of Bangladesh can contest election. If party gives them nomination they will contest”, he said. Party high command will decide nomination, Wadud said.

Asked about allegations of landgrabbing by some of his followers, he said, “No BNP leader or activist grabbed lands, either of Bangalees or of other communities”.

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