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Awami League its own worst enemy at Union Parishad polls

  • Published at 12:05 am November 15th, 2021
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File photo of the Awami League's headquarters at Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Ruling party set to face more rebel candidates in third phase on November 26

The Awami League proved to be its own worst enemy in the Union Parishad polls, as candidates with ruling party tickets are faced off against rebels while major opposition party BNP refuses to participate.

Infighting between followers of Awami League-nominated and rebel candidates led to several bloody clashes across the country.

The ruling party top brass is displeased and deeply concerned by the large number of rebel candidates in the polls despite instructions from the party leadership not to go against the nominated candidates.

Ruling party leaders have been trying to discourage rebel candidates with organizational punishments such as expulsion from party bodies or disallowing them from party nominations, but the number of rebels is still on the rise.

Ekramul Karim Chowdhury, member of parliament from Noakhali-4, has already requested that Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina not allocate the party’s boat symbol to any candidates in the constituency during the UP polls. Several other MPs have also raised the issue with Awami League central leaders.

On condition of anonymity, some leaders of the Awami League said many members of parliament and local party leaders do not want party symbols in local government polls because they think it leads to division and infighting.

A party insider said the Awami League is the party that took the initiative to introduce party symbols in local government polls, so the decision can only be reversed at the top policy-making level.

On Thursday, in the second phase of Union Parishad polls, Awami League-nominated chairman candidates won 468 seats, while independent candidates won 330 seats. Most of the independent candidates were Awami League rebels. 

In the second phase, there were 698 rebel candidates in 835 unions.

Thursday was also the last date for the withdrawal of nominations for the third phase of the Union Parishad polls, to be held in 1,004 unions on November 26. A total 1,069 leaders or workers at different levels of Awami League are set to go against the party decision by contesting the polls as rebel candidates.

Rebel candidates on AL CWC meeting agenda

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Awami League Presidium and Nomination Board Member Kazi Zafarullah said: “We did not give party nominations to those who challenged the party candidates in previous elections as rebel candidates this time. As such, some of the sitting chairmen did not get party nominations this time around because they disobeyed party decisions.”

When contacted, Awami league General Secretary Obaidul Quader on Sunday declined to make any remarks on rebel candidates as it was an “internal concern” of the party.

He, however, hinted that the issue would be discussed at the next Awami League central working committee meeting on November 19.

Party insiders said the divisional organizing secretaries are already preparing a report that will include information on rebel candidates and those who are backing them.

Abu Sayeed Al Mahmood Sopon, an organizing secretary, told this newspaper on Sunday: “I think it’s a matter of concern because rebel candidates are contesting the polls with the knowledge that they will not get the party nomination in the next polls and be sacked from the party.”

He added that more research and investigation was needed to determine why the rebel candidates were going against the party even though they knew the consequences.

Mohammad Shamsul Kabir, general secretary of Munsiganj Sadar Upazila Awami League and a rebel candidate in the next Union Parishad polls, said: “I have been holding this post for the last 20 years. If the party does not give me a chairman ticket, what should I do? 

“The people wanted me, so I contested the last election as a rebel candidate and became elected. Now, I am contesting again.”

He added that he was going against the party with a heavy heart. “What can I do? I am almost 70 years old now. When will the party give me something?”

During the second phase of the UP polls in Kalkini Upazila of Madaripur district, the Awami League-nominated chairman candidates won only four seats. The rest were won by independent or rebel candidates.

Farhad Hosasain Matubbar, one of the rebel candidates who was elected chairman in the upazila, said: “I have been working for the party and funding party programs regularly, but still I was not given the party nomination. What should I have done? The people wanted me and they elected me.”

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