Abdul Quader Mirza, younger brother of ruling Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader, has vowed to tell the truth after his recovery from severe illness. His recent remarks on local politics in Noakhali and the overall situation in Bangladesh have sparked a widespread controversy.
Some politicians of the ruling party are embarrassed while some are agreed with his remarks delivered on 31 December last year while unveiling his manifesto before the forthcoming municipality election of Basurhat in Companiganj upazila, Noakhali.
Abdul Quader Mirza, vice-president of the district Awami League’s proposed committee, is the ruling party’s mayoral candidate in the municipality polls for the third consecutive terms. The local government election is set to be held on 16 January.
In that speech, delivered in the dialect of Noakhali, he said, “Sycophant Awami League leaders claim they demolished the fort of BNP under the leadership of this and that leader. If fair election is held, except for three or four constituencies, our MPs’ in the rest of the seats will not even find the door to run away. This is the truth. I’m just saying it boldly.”
“It is undeniable that the popularity of prime minister Sheikh Hasina has increased while your (local leaders) popularity has gone down. Every day, you (local leaders) are ruining the support of Awami League. In exchange of money, a large rally and procession for Sheikh Hasina could be organised in Maijdee (an upazila of Noakhali). I also could gather huge people for a rally spending money and transportation facilities. If I lose, I will quit politics,” Quader Mirza added.
Mentioning about the gruesome killing of Ekramul Haque, former chairman of Fulgazi upazila in Feni, Mirza said “Those who kill people in broad daylight are being made leaders. What was Ekram’s fault? He was shot and then burned to death.”
Without mentioning anybody, the ruling party leader alleged, “Today those are being considered as leaders who launder millions of taka from the country they earned through illegal tender business. Those are being considered as leaders who take 500,000 taka by giving people jobs in police and primary school.”
Slamming the district Awami League’s proposed committee, Quader Mirza said, ‘Javed (Minhaz Ahmed Javed) is the younger brother of former army chief Moin U Ahmed. Some of the leaders had saved themselves that time (during the political changeover in 2007) by contacting him. Now, Hawa Bhaban’s Manik (Ataur Rahman Bhuiyan alias Manik) and he are the senior vice presidents of the district Awami League committee. But a dedicated person like Sahab Uddin, chairman of Companiganj upazila, has been made an advisor. This is our district committee! Some leaders say they know nothing.”
After the speech, Mirza made another controversial statement in a meeting of upazila parishad on Sunday morning. He said, “It’s sad that there has been a distance in my relation with Mrs. Obaidul Quader since the last upazila parishad elections. Some leaders are conspiring against me and have sent arms to create an unstable atmosphere.”
Mirza alleged that his nephew Rahat, former chairman of the upazila Mizanur Rahman alias Badal and Sabab Chowdhury, son of Noakhali-4 constituency MP, are involved in it.
Some embarrassed, some agreed
AL’s Companiganj unit president freedom fighter Khijir Hayat Khan agrees with the remarks of Quader Mirza. However, Noakhali-4 constituency MP and district AL general secretary Ekramul Karim Chowdhury on Monday said that he is embarrassed. Without saying anything in retort, Chowdhury said that he hopes central leaders would look after the matter.
President of AL’s Noakhali unit AHM Khairul Anam Chowdhury told Prothom Alo that nothing of what Mirza has said is false. Party forum will discuss these soon. Both Abdul Quader Mirza and Ekramul Karim Chowdhury are indispensable for the party.
‘Still talking and getting rebuked’
On Monday, Abdul Quader Mirza talked to Prothom Alo over his remarks. Following is the conversation between Prothom Alo and the AL leader:
Prothom Alo: You have been talking about different issues over the past few days. Everyone wants to know, why do you speak of it all on a sudden?
Abdul Quader Mirza: No, I didn’t tell it all on a sudden. Several days ago, I went to the US for treatment. Physicians found two tumours after examining my body. I thought I would die there. There was coronavirus pandemic too, I stayed at home. At that moment, I realised the situation in Noakhali and the entire country per se. I have begun with Noakhali and my neighbouring district, Feni. Today, I have presented the real scenario of these two areas. That’s it.
Prothom Alo: You elder brother Obaidul Quader is the general secretary of the party. It is embarrassing for him as well …
Abdul Quader Mirza: Indeed. But when I was in the US, I decided to speak the truth boldly, that I’ll protest against misdeeds, injustice and irregularities. I don’t want to dishonour him. But I must speak the truth. Their mistakes must be pointed out and they must be told that you should not do it.
Prothom Alo: Why did you not discuss these issues at the party forum?
Abdul Quader Mirza: After going to the US, I’ve realised discussing at the party forum will bear no fruit. I am talking now and getting rebuked. Arms were sent here to make the election disputable. But I will hold a fair and free election. Bangbabandhu freed the country to establish the rights to food and franchise of the people. Rights to food have been established under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, not the rights to vote. I will set an example from this municipality.