While the entire nation was observing National Mourning Day in a melancholic atmosphere on Tuesday, some chose the day as a perfect means to win hearts and minds of the Awami League leadership by holding numerous programmes and events to get nominations for the next general polls.
They include the ruling Awami League's leaders, businessmen, former bureaucrats and retired military officials. They were seen putting up posters and banners with electoral slogans and uploading videos, photos as well as documentaries on their social media sites ahead of the day. Apart from different development initiatives of the current Awami League government, the camping materials feature their profiles and pledges they want to fulfil,if elected.
During a recent inquiry, the Dhaka Tribune correspondent found two such businessmen in Jhenaidah striving for the party's blessings by putting up thousands of banners and posters all over the district and by holding prayers for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
When contacted, several Awami League leaders in the district said that in the past they had never seen the businessmen hold any programme to observe the day. But this year they organised numerous programmes.
Preferring to be anonymous, a district leader, who is also an aspirant to parliament with the Awami League ticket, said: “Generally, we organise mourning events on behalf of our party. But this year, eyeing the polls, many were seen holding the programmes on their own, and all of them are actually contending for the party’s blessings.”
Another leader in Jessore, who is too seeking nomination from the party from Jessore 1 constituency, organised free blood donation camps and milads, placed floral wreaths at Bangabandhu’s portrait, and distributed food among the destitute.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of his close aides said: “He [the leader] hopes that he will be given nomination from Awami League. In an attempt to prove his popularity to the high command, he organised several programmes.
“Though the events were held apparently to observe National Mourning Day, the underlying objectives were to campaign ahead of the polls and showcase his popularity.”
Mahfuzur Rahman Benju, a former president of Rajshahi city unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student front of the Awami League, said: “I have organised mourning programmes on the day over the last 15 years and will do so until my death. I do it out of my love and respect for Bangabandhu. I do it because I believe in his ideals.
“There is no connection between the programmes and the elections.”