In an exclusive interview with the Dhaka Tribune’s Fazlur Rahman Raju, Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif talks about the flow of black money in politics, Jamaat’s inclusion in Awami League and infighting among party leaders
There is an allegation that black money rules politics. What is Awami League’s plan to stop the flow of black money in politics?
We all know that money has great power. Even in the USA, people alleged that politics is ruled by money. There is no alternative to funds, as we need it in every sphere of life. But Awami League does not believe in destroying politics for the sake of wealth. Bangladesh Awami League believes in ideological politics and we want to uphold these principles. There are some political parties in Bangladesh who sell their party nomination but Awami League never did that and will not do so in future either.
There are sharp divisions and conflicts among party leaders. Why is Awami League failing to resolve the disputes?
A person’s thinking changes over time. Awami League is in power for nine years in a row now. During this time, as the biggest political party, Awami League created a lot of leaders; and there is competition among them. We have several qualified leaders in one area, who are all capable of leading the party.
It is natural for disputes to happen among leaders. This competition existed in the past, is still prevalent in the present and will continue to be so in the future.
Regardless, we are trying to solve the disputes through organizational tours, in-house meetings and by speaking with them personally. We are actively trying to resolve the disagreement among party leaders.
Say something about disputes among lawmakers and grassroots leaders…
There are many controversies over this issue. We cannot accuse anyone without confirming the allegation. In every constituency, there are several leaders who are vying for party nomination. I think these leaders are trying to benefit from tarnishing others’ images.
Why did Awami League leaders include Jamaat activists in the party?
I do not know about the inclusion of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh’s activists but there is no scope of inclusion of Jamaat men in Awami League due to ideological conflicts. However, BNP can do politics with Awami League.
We have provided a guideline in all spheres of the party about Jamaat as we have a reservation about them. They had an anti-liberation role in the War of 1971. People who have clean image and acceptance among the public can do politics with Awami League.
It has been proven that Awami League’s president and present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is the most honest and accepted politician in the history of Bangladesh. Anyone who was not involved with criminal activities and wants to support Sheikh Hasina, is allowed to join Awami League from other parties.
If Jamaat leaders and activists are to be included in Awami League, then they should be thoroughly investigated first. If the allegations are found to be true, strict action should be taken against them.
Do you agree that local rivalries are threatening to unravel 14-party alliance?
Lawmakers from the 14-party alliance have won in the election after getting votes from Awami League leaders and activists. We all know that our alliance parties are not strong enough to win the election on their own.
The question is why Awami League voters do not like alliance lawmakers who were elected through the support of AL voters in the first place.
We have experienced that after winning the election; alliance lawmakers forget the voters and try to promote their own party. They do not keep in mind that the voters are devoted to Awami League. This is why local AL activists do not like alliance lawmakers.
Does Awami League demand international recognition of March 25 as International Genocide Day?
Not only ruling Awami League but also historians, freedom fighters and commentators demanded that the United Nations recognize March 25 as Genocide Day, as the atrocities committed by the Pakistan army in 1971 were planned and intentional. But we have not gotten the recognition yet.
We hope United Nations will recognize March 25 as International Genocide Day.
Will the Assam issue or relation with China hamper Bangladesh-India relation?
The relationship between Bangladesh and India will not be hampered due to someone’s personal comments. As neighbours, India and Bangladesh have some disputes. However, there is still a very good bond between the two countries which will not be hampered in the near future.