What are the fundamental changes that are likely to be brought about in the declaration of the party council?
Awami league is the oldest and the largest party of the country. Every council of the party is a milestone in the history of the nation and so is the 20th council. You know, we have some challenges to take on in the competitive world and in the era of open market economy. There are some emerging challenges too.
Add to that new agendas in the geopolitical context. There are already some issues while some others are new, emerging ones. This country of ours has a huge population having a hell lot of economic challenges. Given the context we take up new programmes and set our goals anew in every council.
Another aspect is that we try to find out the effective ways or the road-map in order to implement the aims and goals or vision we set and we undertake our programmes in the council accordingly. We also determine a structure best suited to the party to pursue the goals.
At present the size and strength of the party is increasing and working area is widening. We are mulling over a plan to make some recommendations for deciding on the size of the party. Given the country's context, we declared an elaborate vision to be achieved by 2021 apart from formulating the sixth Five-Year Plan.
By this time, we have implemented the MDG goals: Bangladesh is now appreciated all over the world for its performance in alleviating poverty and achievement in attaining other MDGs, like reducing maternal and child mortality rates, girls' enrolment into schools. Bangladesh is doing extremely well in achieving the 17 targets. In order to keep it up and move ahead in line with this development, we have adopted our programmes. We proposed the changes eying the upcoming election in 2019. And the changes and the new declarations will be reflected in the election manifesto.
We had a meeting of the executive committee of our party on Wednesday that approved the proposal to expand the size of the committee. However, the draft of the new constitution will be presented before the council. If the councillors give their nod, it will be adopted.
A proposal is there to increase the size of the central committee from 73 to 81. There will be a 19-member presidium in place of the present 15-member one. The party will get four joint secretaries instead of three in the present committee. And two more organising secretaries and two more members were proposed for the new committee. Besides, the constitution subcommittee also proposed not including any convicted killers of Bangabandhu and war criminals in the committee.
What kind of changes is the party going to make in the leadership? Can you specify some concrete examples?
I cannot say anything about this exactly. New faces might come. The existing committee might be reshuffled with a new general secretary; new faces might also be included in the other posts too like that of the organising secretary or joint secretary. New faces in the new committee is pretty much natural. But we are mulling a committee with the combination of old and young generations to strengthen the party. We want to make the party more dynamic and more organised.
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The unique boat-shaped stage, built for the Awami League council scheduled to be held on October 22-23, 2016 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune
What does this council mean to the party, its activists and the future of the country?
We said we would bring all the party activists and leaders together. The goal is to unite the party members at the grassroots level to achieve the party vision.
Is there any resolution that is going to be added to the existing ones?
We want the new leadership to continue the developments that we have achieved. Our target is to become a rich country, a country without poverty. And according to the SDGs, we have the aim to ensure there would be no poverty by 2030.
By 2021, we want to make it a middle income country. We want to reduce poverty, increase investment, the revenue and GDP, we want to expand the role of the manufacturing sector. And our political goal is to make the country a proper democratic state.
We want to ensure a democratic, secular ambiance. We will work to that end. We will continue to fight against fundamentalism and militancy. We are committed to fighting against terrorism in the regional and international spheres. We will maintain zero tolerance towards terrorism.
You have been named as one of the potential party general secretary candidates. Who do you think will be the party secretary in the next council? What would you do if you were made the general secretary of the party?
I do not know about it. I have never thought of it but I am committed to working for the country's democracy with an inclusive approach excepting Jamaat, the party that worked against the country's Liberation War and independence.
The BNP said they expected democracy to be restored through the council. Do you have any comment on this statement?
It is a democratic country. Elections are held constitutionally but election is just one aspect of democracy. There might be political programmes like hartal, blockade, movement, rally or procession etc. These are not unexpected in democratic politics. If we make any mistake as the government, they will protest. But this is not acceptable or understandable when they unleash violence and subversive activities in the name of hartal or blockade. Now there is democracy in the country. There are many newspapers, electronic media, online portals; people are writing or publishing whatever they like. Press is another aspect, the fourth pillar of democracy. There is elections in every sphere – from local to national level. But they (BNP) made a mistake in not taking part in the January 5 elections. We hope that they would take part in the next election to be held in 2019. We will seek their support to hold free and fair election.
Is Sajeeb Wazed Joy coming to the leadership from the young generation?
Joy is already contributing, more or less, to the party despite having no post. He is doing it for the government too. He helps development activities. With his professional expertise, he is contributing to the IT sector. He is performing a lot of responsibilities for the party and government as well. However, it is not known to me if he is coming to the leadership.
In what process will the leadership be decided? What are going to be crucial factors in deciding leadership?
The leadership will be elected as it is inscribed in our party constitution. Normally, those who have experience of running the party with organisational capability would be brought in.