Awami League has initiated activities to create an atmosphere for the upcoming 12th national parliament elections across the country, immediately following the announcement of the election schedule.
Their electoral journey begins today, Friday, and concurrently, efforts to bring various parties to the polling ground have intensified. The ruling party aims to bring those who wish to participate in the votes forth within a week.
According to party policymakers, all organisational activities of Awami League will be election-centric from Friday onwards. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will actively engage in the day-to-day activities of the party alongside her responsibilities in the state.
The first meeting of Awami League's election management committee is scheduled for today, Friday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will preside over the meeting at 3:00 pm at the Dhaka District and Dhaka North City Awami League office in Tejgaon. The election management committee comprises top leaders from the party's central committee, advisory council, and associated organisations.
Following today's meeting, Awami League president Sheikh Hasina will virtually inaugurate the sale of forms for nominating party candidates for the 12th national elections.
Initially, President Sheikh Hasina will obtain her own forms. Starting tomorrow, Saturday, other interested candidates can purchase the party form from the central office of Awami League on Bangabandhu Avenue.
According to sources within the Awami League party, today's meeting of the National Committee on Election Management may approve the formation of 14 sub-committees. These committees, led by central party leaders, may also have professionals and dignitaries as their heads.
Additionally, the position of co-chairman of the National Election Management Committee is still vacant. Currently, there is consideration for filling this position with either Md Sadiq, former Secretary of the Election Commission, or Abul Kalam Azad, former Cabinet Secretary.
Efforts to bring various parties, individuals to the polls
One of the goals of the Awami League is to encourage BNP leaders to participate in the polls as independent candidates, along with leaders from other small parties.
This effort is currently underway. Additionally, negotiations are reportedly ongoing to involve Islamic parties and other smaller political entities in the electoral process.
Party policymakers believe that blocking the vote by BNP is unlikely as Awami League has successfully garnered public support. The current focus is on persuading both party and BNP leaders that even the pressure from the US and Western countries will not impede the electoral process.
The objective is to assure those who may have reservations that participating in the polls is a viable option. In case the target is not achieved, there are plans to intensify pressure.
In a press conference at the Awami League's Tejgaon office on Thursday, Obaidul Quader, the party's general secretary, was asked whether the credibility of the election would be questioned if many other parties, including the BNP, did not participate in the polls.
In response, Obaidul Quader said, "The next few days are very crucial. The last date for the submission of the nomination form is 30 November... Let’s wait and see what happens."
Three offices gear up around the election
In preparation for the upcoming 12th National Parliament elections, the Awami League has strategically designated three offices to facilitate their preparations and formulate a electoral strategy. The central office on Bangabandhu Avenue will serve as the primary location for the sale of party nomination forms.
Interested candidates can collect and submit these forms at the central office between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, with the submission deadline set for 21 November. Ten booths have been established for the convenient collection and submission of forms.
The price for each nomination form has been fixed at 50,000 taka for this election cycle. Following the completion of form submissions, the nomination board will convene in a meeting to make decisions regarding the selection of candidates.
Nomination papers for Dhaka, Mymensingh, Sylhet, and Chattogram divisions will be available on the 1st floor of the central office. On the second floor, nomination papers for Rangpur, Rajshahi, Khulna, and Barisal divisions will be distributed. The ground floor of the central office will be dedicated to the submission of nomination papers for all categories.
Aspirants are urged to collect nomination forms without causing overcrowding. Candidates have the option to either collect and submit the nomination form personally or through a qualified representative.
During the collection of the nomination form, it is mandatory to present a photocopy of the candidate's national identity card. The photocopy should include essential details such as the candidate's mobile phone number, current organisational identity, and three key posts held by the candidate.
In preparation for the upcoming elections, the Awami League has newly adorned the Dhaka district office in Tejgaon. A dedicated room has been arranged for the party chief, Sheikh Hasina. This room is equipped with the necessary tools to facilitate virtual communication and programme coordination across the country.
A group of former secretaries and police officers has been convening regularly to formulate the election strategy for the Awami League, and their meetings have continued over the past few days.
The gathering, which included prominent figures such as former election commissioner Md Sadiq, former Chief Secretary Abul Kalam Azad, former Senior Secretary Kamal Abdul Nasser Chowdhury, former diplomat Sohrab Hossain, former Inspector General of Police Hasan Mahmud Khandkar, and former Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Asaduzzaman Mia, was observed in session yesterday.
In recent elections, Awami League's Dhanmondi office has played a more significant role. However, this time, the focus of the office will shift towards research and promotional activities. A dedicated team, led by former Cabinet Secretary Kabir bin Anwar, has initiated campaign activities at the Dhanmondi office. Additionally, the office remains engaged in ongoing research and data collection activities throughout the year.
According to the Election Commission schedule, symbol allotment is slated for 18 December, marking the official commencement of the election campaign. Awami League President Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to kickstart the campaign in Sylhet.
Awami League presidium member Kazi Zafar Ullah conveyed to Prothom Alo that the electoral journey of Awami League has begun at the intended pace, emphasising that there is no time to look back.