Conflicts over political dominance, tender bids and personal gains have led to violent clashes involving activists of the ruling Awami League and its affiliate organisations, resulting in deaths of at least 28 people in the first eight months of this year.
At least 2,400 others were also injured in 178 clashes between January and August, data from Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) show.
Last year, 177 people, including 83 Awami League activists and 84 innocent bystanders, died in 907 political clashes that left 11,462 others injured. A year before that, the political parties locked horns 865 times, killing at least 153 people and injuring 6,318 more.
A majority of these clashes were between activists of the ruling party.
“Personal rivalry lead to clashes among political leaders and activists,” said Awami League Organising Secretary Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury Nowfel. “Politicians engage in violence to establish supremacy, get tenders or make money.”
It is an issue, he said, which was “impossible to solve”.
Jubo League's General Secretary Harunur Rashid said the clashes were not over ideology.
“When members of a political party engage in clashes despite believing in the same ideology, it is clear that they are fighting over personal issues,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
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Continuation of such clashes, coupled with reports of internal feuds, may become a big headache for the Awami League which has been in office since 2009 and aims to retain power for a third consecutive time.
Failure to resolve the issues and uniting the activists before the next general election, just over a year away, may put the ruling party at a major disadvantage.
National University Vice-Chancellor and political analyst Harun-or-Rashid said the basic principles of democracy were absent in Bangladeshi politics.
“Politicians, intolerant towards opposing views, usually engage in violent clashes over frivolous matter,” he told the Dhaka Tribune. “These are people who think they are above the law and hence order taking the lives of others.”
On Friday, Bangladesh Chhatra League's Chittagong City unit leader Sudipto Biswas was beaten to death, allegedly by his fellow activists. His family blamed political feud for the killing.
The Awami League student front's central committee joint secretary Diaz Irfan Chowdhury was found hanging from the ceiling fan at his room in Chittagong University dormitory on November 20 last year. Investigations later revealed that he was murdered.
Awami League Presidium Member Abdur Razzak dubbed activists engaging in infighting “thugs” who have “no sense of political belonging.”
“They merely use their political power to be violent,” he said. “In some areas, politicians engage in conflicts because of personal interest. We are trying to solve this problem.”