Pabna-1 constituency, once a strong base of Jamaat-e-Islami, the political party which opposed birth of Bangladesh during the 1971 Liberation War, is now overwhelmingly dominated by supporters and its activists of Awami League.
The ruling Awami League wants to continue its dominance in this seat for the fourth consecutive time in the upcoming 12th National Parliamentary election. Meanwhile, Jamaat and BNP wish to retake and regain dominance of their popularity in the seat taking advantages of the conflicts among the leaders of Awami League.
In view of the tough challenges of winning the parliamentary seat, Awami League, BNP and Jamaat leaders and their activists are keeping busy to drum up maximum public support to retake the parliamentary seat in the up coming national election.
Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament and former State Minister for Home, ShamsulHuq Tuku, who is a veteran freedom fighter, is the existing lawmaker elected from the seat as an Awami League candidate. He has been elected as the lawmaker in this seat for last three consecutive times.
During his long tenure as a member of Parliament, public supports to Awami League have increased for various development works in the area. Besides, supports to Awami League have increased for his strong leadership role as well.
However, this area was believed to be a vote bank of Jamaat-e-Islami, although the party has now no rights to take part in the national election after the Election Commission canceled its registration as an anti-liberation force.
But, the entire situation has now changed. Neither the party has any rights to take part in the election, nor there is any public support for them like in the past.
There are five parliamentary constituencies in Pabna district. Among those seats, the Pabna-1 (Santhia-Bera) seat consists of one municipality and 10 unions of Santhia upazila along with one municipality and five unions of the scenario of this constituency area.
Captain M Manur Ali, one of the four national leaders, had been elected from this seat as an Awami League candidate in 1973. In 1979, Zahurul Islam was elected from BNP. ManjurQuader was elected from Jatiya Party in 1986.
Matiur Rahman Nizami of Jamaat-e-Islami won the seat in 1991 parliamentary election. In the 1996 election, Awami League candidate Abu Sayeed was elected as a Member of Parliament. Matiur Rahman Nizami was further elected MP of this seat in 2001 election.
After that, Advocate ShamsulHaque Tuku of Awami League was elected Member of Parliament for three consecutive elections in 2008, 2014 and in 2018.
It is said that Advocate ShamsulHaque Tuku will be the candidate of the Awami League in this seat again in the next election, which is expected to be held in January 2024.
However, several leaders of the ruling party are also on the candidate list. Upazila Chairman Abdullah Al Mahmud Delwar, former Railway Secretary and former Human Rights Commission member M Salim Reza and Professor Abdul Awal are among them.
Former Information Minister Professor Abu Sayeed, who has been expelled from the Awami League, remains inactive so far. It is not yet clear whether he will be elected from any other party or not.
Although the Jamaat-e-Islami is not eligible to contest elections due to cancellation of its registration by the Election Commission, barrister NazirMomen, son of former Jamaat Amir Matiur Rahman Nizami, is active in politics.
Following a court order, Matiur Rahman Nizami was executed for his acts on crimes against humanity during the war of liberation in 1971.
Besides, former Amir of Bara Upazila unit Jamaat Dr. Abdul Bachet Khan is also considering of becoming a candidate for this seat from Jamaat party.
After 1996, BNP could not field any candidate for this seat. They left the seat to Jamaat due to the alliance between BNP and Jamaat in the election.
In such circumstance, there is dispute and frustration among BNP activists. Former Water Resources Minister Major (Retd.) ManzoorQuader may also seek BNP’s nomination this time.
Among other possible candidates of BNP, names of Bera municipality unit president of BNP Fazlur Rahman Fakir, Santhia Upazila unit BNP's former general secretary Shamsul Islam and Tanti Dal central vice-president Yunus Ali are being discussed among the party men.