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Sarker Shariful Islam, Rajshahi
A hectic bargaining has started between BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami as the top two parties of 20-party alliance engaged into a political tug of war on sharing councillor seats of Rajshahi City Corporation elections.
Though Jamaat-e-Islami did not nominate any candidate for mayoral post in RCC elections, the party leaders are now seeking BNP’s full support for their councillor candidates in the elections.
Jamaat has filed 16 councillor candidates out of which 14 belong to general ward councillors and two of women’s reserved seats.
Insiders of Jamaat-e-Islami in Rajshahi informed that they would only support BNP-backed mayoral candidate if BNP fully support the Jamaat-backed councillor candidates.
Ahead of RCC elections, such bargaining between BNP and Jamaat has been learnt to intensify the bitter relation between the top two members of 20-party alliance.
On Wednesday night, it is learnt, BNP’s chief co-ordinator of RCC elections Gayeswar Chandra Roy held a meeting with local 20-party alliance leaders at the house of former minister and advisor to the chairperson of BNP advocate Kabir Hossain; apparently to mend the rivalry between the two parties.
In the meeting, Gayeswar directed the local BNP leaders to settle the issue with Jamaat soon, said a senior BNP leade5r of Rajsdhahi on anonymity.
He said, “Following the direction, local BNP leaders are learnt to launch a dialogue with the Jamaat-backed councillor candidates in various wards of the city. They have started hectic lobbying to convince the Jamaat-backed candidates to withdraw their candidature within July 9. But, there was no positive response from any Jamaat councillor candidates so far.”
Shafiqul Haque Milon, General secretary of Rajshahi city BNP in this connection said, “Gayeswar Chandra Roy mainly went to visit ailing BNP leader Kabir Hossain. Since Gayeswar has been assigned to co-ordinate the RCC elections for BNP, local party leaders also followed him to the house of Kabir Hossain.”

He also said there was a discussion about the present position of BNP in the city elections and local party leaders and activists have already started to work according to the directions of Gayeswar.

Meanwhile, BNP is facing an uphill battle in gaining Jamat-e-Islami’s support for BNP-backed Mayoral candidate Mosaddeque Hossain Bulbul.

A responsible source from city Jamaat said they would support the BNP mayoral candidate on the condition that all BNP councillor candidates from those 16 wards withdraw their nominations in support of the Jamaat candidates.

Mentionable, Jamaat is regarded as influential determinant of power for BNP in every election in Rajshahi. It is said that here Jamaat has a good number of votes, termed ‘reserved votes’, which is considered detrimental to winning any poll in the city.

As a result, BNP does not want to start a rivalry with Jamaat. But, most BNP candidates are incumbent, or former, councillors who are unwilling to withdraw their candidature, argued a BNP leader.

Denying the rumour of rivalry, BNP city unit General secretary Shafiqul Haque Milon in this connection said, “The councillors are not elected on party basis. Anyone can vie for councillor post irrespective of party affiliation.”

“Leaders and activists from all parties of 20-party alliance will work for Bulbul,” he also said, adding that they were maintaining a regular contact with Jamaat leaders and there was no difference of opinion regarding RCC elections between them.

Abu Yousuf Selim, Nayebey Ameer of Rajshahi city unit of Jamaat said, “It was decided by party high command that there will be no Mayoral candidate from Jamaat in Rajshahi and Barishal city corporation elections.”

Referring to a media report that 20-party alliance is extending its support for BNP’s mayoral candidate, the Jamaat leader said, “We have not received any such directives from the party high command so far.”
He, however, said that the party’s stand over the issue of supporting BNP’s mayoral candidate will be clear soon.

He advised all to wait till July 10 to learn the situation.