AL grassroots leaders voice concern over internal conflict

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Internal rift in Awami League has intensified centering the upcoming upazila election as the grassroots leaders-activists accuse ministers-lawmakers of interfering with the election. In a meeting with the party’s central leadership, the grassroots leaders also accused the ministers-lawmakers of meddling with local politics of the ruling party.

Grassroots leaders of Chattogram demanded that Awami League nominate single candidates in upazila elections to decrease the internal conflict. They, however, did not get any decision from the ruling party general secretary Obaidul Quader in this regard. But the AL general secretary sent a strong message to ministers, lawmakers and influential leaders not to exert any influence in the election.

The meeting between Awami League general secretary and Chattogram division’s lawmakers and leaders took place in Dhaka district AL office in the city's Tejgaon on Sunday. Chattogram district south AL president Abdus Salam, Cox’s Bazar district president Faridul Islam Chowdhury, Noakhali district president AHM Khairul Anam and several other leaders spoke in favor picking a single candidate from the party.

AL presidium member Mosharrof Hossain chaired the meeting.

Obaidul Quader in his welcome speech gave various instructions in issues such as upazila election and internal conflict.

AL has been meeting divisional leaders and lawmakers as part of restructuring the party ahead of upazila polls.

Sources at the meeting said, Chattogram south AL president Abdus Salam said, “It has been said that the ministers-lawmakers or district Awami League leaders won’t interfere in the upazila elections. But interference is invisible. In reality everyone will interfere.”

The upazila elections used to be held without any party symbol but the political party would back a single candidate. Organisational discipline can be ensured by such practice. But if four to five candidates of the party now contest in the election, then the MP will support one and district Awami League leaders support different candidates. This practice will further weaken the party.”

Cox’s Bazar unit leader Faridul Islam Chowdhury said multiple contenders of the party will only increase conflict among party folds.

“This would create psychological distance among the leaders,” he told the meeting.

Noakhali district president Khairul Anam Chowdhury is the upazila chairman of Subarnachar. Khairul said he does not contest in parliament or any other election and focuses only on upazila polls. But lawmaker Ekramul Karim now announced the candidacy of his son, although his ancestral home is in Kabirhat.

Khairul Anam said he has informed the top leadership of the party about the development and left the issue to their judgment.

Chandpur district AL general secretary Abu Naim Patwary Dulal alleged that Jubo League locked the district unit’s office.

He said the AL men could have entered the office using force but did not do so to avoid a bloody clash. Pointing towards AL’s central joint secretary general Dipu Moni, Abu Naim said, “Those who are doing it from Dhaka are not doing the right thing. Don’t get engaged with these activities. Otherwise the party would suffer.”

Dipu Moni was present at the meeting while Abu Naim was delivering this speech.

Cox’s Bazar MP and whip Saimum Sarwar Kamal, who was a ruling party candidate, alleged that 70 per cent leaders of the party were against him in the last general election. Kamal said he had thought he would be defeated by an independent candidate by a margin of 10,000 votes but won miraculously.

Chattogram city AL general secretary AJM Nasir Uddin urged the party to hold the council of the city unit soon.

The AL leadership asked local units to hold council in the units where tenure of committees has expired. All the expired committees have been asked to hold council within 13 December.  All organisational units of Chattogram division were asked to announce full-fledged committees within next year’s March.

Obaidul Quader in his speech also urged the leaders and activists to behave responsibly and not to make any remarks that might fuel division in the party.