Kushtia 3 was once a BNP stronghold, but the 2008 election changed the constituency’s political landscape
The ruling Awami League is looking to retain the Kushtia 3 constituency at the upcoming parliamentary election by riding on the popularity of the party’s joint general secretary, Mahbubul Alam Hanif.
Hanif had to vacate his Kushtia 2 seat for JaSad chief Hasanul Haq Inu as part of the Awami League-led alliance at the 2014 election. He switched his campaigning efforts to Kushtia 3 and easily defeated his rival as the main opposition BNP boycotted the polls.
The constituency of 303,401 registered voters comprises 11 unions and a municipality and was once a BNP stronghold. However, the scenario changed in 2008 when Awami League’s Khandker Rashiduzzaman Dudu defeated the BNP candidate.
This time around, BNP is bidding to regain Kushtia 3 on the back of its morale boosting defeat of the Awami League in the recent upazila election.
However, party activists fear police harassment, attacks by ruling party supporters and a large number of sabotage cases could derail its campaign.
Apart from the Awami League and BNP, smaller political parties have also hit the canvassing trail.
Hanif likely pick for AL
Locals say the constituency has seen unprecedented development since Hanif became the MP. He keeps in touch with the public and holds regular meetings with them.
“The next election will not be a tough one for Hanif (as) he has done a lot for the people and our party activists are with him,” Awami League’s district unit senior vice-president and zila parishad chairman, Rabiul Islam, said.
The party’s district unit general secretary, Azgar Ali, and municipal mayor Anowar Ali - previously represented the party in the national polls but failed to win - are also seeking the party’s nominations.
Kushtia Awami League Publicity Secretary Hasanul Askar Hasu says the next election will likely be “very competitive”.
“Those who pretended to be Awami League activists will show their true faces soon,” he said.
“Many of our leaders and activists, who sacrificed a lot during the hard times, became inactive because of these shape-shifters. We need our activists to activate again. Otherwise, the party may suffer.”
BNP to pose challenge for AL
Retaining the seat will be a challenge for Awami League.
In the most recent upazila election, Kushtia Sadar Upazila Chairman Zakir Hossain defeated the ruling party candidate by 50,000 votes. In addition, BNP’s ally Jamaat-e-Islami, which cannot contest this election, will likely lend its support to Khaleda Zia’s party.
As such BNP nomination-aspirants are trying to organize the party.
As well as Zakir, the party’s district unit general secretary and former MP Sohrab Uddin is popular among the locals and has been campaigning hard. His role during the 2007-08 caretaker government has also earned him special recognition among the party’s central command.
“Police are harassing our party’s activists as they campaign, while Awami League activists are threatening BNP activists,” Sohrab said. “The BNP candidate will win if the voting is free and fair.”
Another option for BNP is the district’s Swechchhasebak Dal unit organizer, Shamim Ul Hasan Opu, who also says he will seek the party’s nod to contest the polls.
Apart from the Awami League and BNP aspirants, Jatiya Party’s district unit President Nafiz Ahmed Khan Titu and District JaSad (Inu faction) chief Golam Mohsin are also trying to impress voters.