In an interview with Dhaka Tribune’s Ali Asif Shawon, Bangladesh Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif, who has served in this capacity for three consecutive terms, discusses changes in the party leadership and why he believes the third generation of Bangabandhu family should formally take the reins of the party. This is the second in a series of interviews leading up to the upcoming Awami League National Council on December 20-21
Tell us about the preparation of Awami League National Council.
We are wholly prepared for our national council in a festive mood. The list of councillors and delegates have been prepared. The sub-committees have wrapped up their work.
What is the main focus of this council?
The council is an occasion to reform party’s central body. Those who failed to perform in the outgoing committee may be excluded or deprived of a promotion. With a combination of new and old leaders, mobilizing the party speed is a focal issue. The Awami League is one of the oldest political parties in the country with a glorious past; people will have expectations.
The nation wants to know who are going to lead our party. The new leaders will uphold the spirit of Awami League to make Bangladesh a secular and developed country in line with the spirit of our Liberation War. We believe that in future, there will be no place for anyone who do not believe in the spirit of the Liberation War or our independence. We want to represent Bangladesh as a country where both the ruling party and the opposition alike believe in the spirit of independence.
What changes in the Central Working Committee can we expect?
A change in leadership during the council is a normal process, but it is very hard to say specifically what changes will occur. Firstly, as a democratic party, any decision is made by our councillors and party president. In a national council, councillors nationwide elect the party president as the highest decision maker. The party president will decide who will be in the Awami League Central Working Committee.
What I can say is that there is no alternative to Sheikh Hasina as the party chief. This extends not only to the party members, but also the public. She has achieved this status through her work over a lifetime. The general secretary is the second most important position in the party. It will be decided by her and the councillors. We expect capable leaders in every position.
There is talk among party leaders that there is a possibility of changing general secretary this time. What do you think?
We, the central committee leaders, cannot foresee that. The decision belongs to our councillors or the party president. Sheikh Hasina has been running the party for decades, she is well aware of what goes on.
Is there any possibility of separating the leaders’ roles in the party and the government in this council?
We are not sure yet because this issue is never discussed in the Central Working Committee or in any party forum, as far as I know.
There are rumours that the third generation of the Bangabandhu family is formally entering politics through this council. Can you confirm?
I think the third generation of the Bangabandhu family should join the Central Working Committee and take the responsibility of the party. Sheikh Hasina is more than 73 years old. She can run the party and government for another 10-15 years. But after that, her physical condition may not permit her to do so.
By joining now, the new generation can learn directly from her. It is high time for them to formally take the responsibilities of the party.