Sylhet 4 constituency: 2 AL, 5 BNP leaders vying for nominations
Voters believe AL’s failure to break the stone quarry syndicate might pave the way for other parties to come to power
Comprised of three upazilas, the Sylhet-4 constituency is the largest constituency in Bangladesh.
It comprises border upazilas Companiganj, Goainghat and Jaintapur. Most of the stone quarries, as well as tourist spots like: Jaflong, Bichhanakandi, Pantumai, Lalakhal, Sripur, and Bholaganj, are situated in these upazilas.
The constituency generates significant revenue for the country.
Two ruling-party Awami League candidates, five BNP candidates, one Jatiya Party candidate, one Jamaat-e-Islami candidate, and one candidate from Jamiat Ulama e Islam will be participating in the 11th national election for this constituency.
Stone quarries AL’s main concern
The current member of the parliament from Sylhet-4 constituency is Vice-President of district Awami league and President of the standing committee related to Post, Telecommunications and Information Technology Imran Ahmed.
Imran has already been elected the MP six times. In the last national election held in 2014, Imran beat Awami League contestant Faruq Ahmed by a difference of 37,000 votes.
This seat contains all the stone quarries situated in the: Bholaganj, Jaflong, Bichhanakandi, Shah Arpin, Utmachhra, and Sripur upazilas.
The quarries pose a unique problem for the local MP; influential people from the ruling party want to seize control of the royalties earned from stone extraction, from locally-influential people.
Imran has failed to play a role in stopping the local administration, and those affiliated with them, from using the quarries as they please. Several of Imran’s own party members have been accused in different quarry-related cases.
Companiganj upazila Awami League President Ali Amzad, Jaintapur upazila Awami League Secretary Liakat Ali, Joint Secretary Foyez Ahmed Babar, and other Chhatra Leage and Jubo League members have been accused—causing party members to resent Imran.
Imran’s wife Dr Nasrin Ahmed, pro vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, is close to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s family. She attended the Bangabandhu satellite launching ceremony, in Florida, earlier this year, on behalf of the government.
Voters are confident Nasrin’s support will help Imran get the nomination for Sylhet-4 seat. However, they think if BNP participates in the election, it will become challenging for Awami League to clinch a victory.
Nasrin has spent the year increasing her communication with the public of the constituency. Besides attending different meetings, she has inaugurated and laid the foundations for different infrastructure projects.
Party leaders and activists have campaigned on her behalf on social media. She has called on voters to vote for Awami League so that the prime minister can continue her vision of establishing democracy in the country.
Other than Imran Ahmed, Organizational Secretary of US Awami League Faruq Ahmed might ask for the nomination as well. Talking to this correspondent, Faruq said after returning to the country, he will arrange a press conference to announce his desire to secure a nomination.
However, voters think Awami League’s failure to break the stone quarry syndicate might pave the way for other parties to come to power.
Several BNP candidates pitched against AL
BNP candidates hopeful for the nomination include former MP and central BNP Vice-Organizational Secretary Dildar Hossain Selim.
Selim’s political career spans a long time. He was the upazila parishad chairman of Goainghat upazila. At the same time, he was elected as the general secretary of Sylhet district sports organization.
Talking to this correspondent, Selim said he has been undertaking different campaign activities in the upazilas to get his party’s nomination.
He is hopeful his well-maintained connections with different leaders and activists will help secure his nomination.
Twice-elected chairman of Goainghat upazila parishad and Vice-President of Sylhet district BNP Abdul Hakim Chowdhury is the other hopeful nominee.
Hakim has continued campaigning in the constituency by staying connected at the grassroots-level. “This is why the people from my region love me,” he said. “I have been with them at times of natural disasters.”
In the future, Hakim wants to expand on his work, the upazila chairman said.
With the hopes of getting the nomination, Supreme Court lawyer and Organizational Secretary of Jatiyatabadi Ainjibi Forum Kamruzzaman Selim has also continued campaigning in the three upazilas.
Former Convener of Sylhet district BNP and former public prosecutor of district bar Nurul Haque also hopes to get the nomination. He has previously contested as the BNP candidate from this constituency.
Other than that, Sylhet district Jatiyatabadi Sechchasebak Dal convener Advocate Shamsuzzaman has also expressed his hopes for clinching a nomination.
Convener and presidium member of Sylhet district Jatiya Party Taj Rahman hopes to get his party’s nomination.
The Jamaat-e-Islami-led 20-party alliance is also interested in participating in the election for this constituency—by nominating Jaintapur upazila parishad Chairman Joynal Abedin.
Mawlana Ataur Rahman, general secretary of Sylhet district Jamiat Ulama e Islam, a member of the 20-party alliance, started campaigning last month—in the hopes of being nominated.
According to the Election Commission, the total number of voters in this constituency is 358,479. Among them, there are 184,062 male and 174,417 female voters.