The Jatiya Party picked its candidates for the general elections keeping one seat vacant for Chief Patron Raushon Ershad and replacing her followers with Chairman GM Quader loyalists - leaving its supporters on the tenterhooks.
Internal strife is a longstanding issue within the main opposition in parliament with direct ties to the ruling Awami League.
The discord over leadership peaked after the death of founder HM Ershad in 2019.
His wife Raushon and brother Quader have time and again made it clear that they want more control than the other.
After the schedule of the 12th parliamentary polls was announced, Raushon told the Election Commission in a letter that they were willing to contest the election under an alliance.
But Quader’s letter to the EC made no mention of a coalition.
Raushon was also always positive about joining the race under the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government, but Raushon and her followers have stayed away from the nomination process.
Quader and his supporters said they would keep an option to boycott the polls amid the BNP’s protests to topple the ruling party from power. But under his leadership, the Jatiya Party sold nomination forms from Nov 20-23.
It extended the deadline by a day seemingly for Raushon, but she did not appear or send a representative to collect the form.
After Quader met Raushon at her residence on Saturday night, the party interviewed the hopefuls.
When it announced the names of the nominees, no candidate was declared in Raushon’s seat.
Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu said Raushon had asked for three nomination forms and he would take those to her home.
Asked why he had not handed the forms to Raushon until Monday, Chunnu said: “I’ll do it when she asks, which she hasn’t.”
Rahgir Al Mahi aka Shad Ershad, son of HM Ershad and Raushon, was elected MP from Ershad’s Rangpur-3 seat after his death.
This time the party declared GM Quader as the candidate for the constituency.
Mashrur Maola, an aide to Quader, had said Raushon wanted a form for Shad to run for the Mymensingh-3 seat, but the party has nominated another candidate for that constituency.
Maola suggested speaking to Raushon and Quader when contacted for comments on Monday.
Chunnu said they could not nominate Shad because he did not seek candidacy.
Then why have they kept a seat vacant for Raushon?
“Out of respect,” said Chunnu.
Among the other Raushon loyalists, Ziaul Haque Mridha and expelled secretary general Mashiur Rahman Ranga have not been given a Jatiya Party ticket.
Ranga said he would contest as an independent.
Professor Harun-or-Rashid, a former vice-chancellor of the National University and political analyst, believes Raushon has lost the battle for control over the party.
“The party is united under GM Quader’s leadership while Raushon and her followers are outcasts.”
Prof Harun also thinks the Jatiya Party will not have a significant impact on the balloting if it goes to polls alone.
“They used to get votes in Rangpur and Sylhet when Ershad was alive. They may win some votes again in Rangpur and Brahmanbaria regions,” he said.