With the 11th national elections right around the corner, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina has asked former General Secretary and Public Administration Minister Syed Ashraful Islam to play a proactive role to counter chief opposition party BNP's political movements before the elections, and also to maintain a good relationship with foreign countries.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked Syed Ashraful Islam to have a more active role in politics at a private meeting after the conclusion of the Cabinet meeting on May 7. The prime minister asked him to appear before the media at least twice a week to talk about the current political situation, sources close to Ashraful said.
According to the sources, the prime minister told Ashraful that he has an honest image among the public. Hence, if he appeared in front of the media and talked about BNP, people would accept his statements cordially.
Ashraful agreed with the prime minister and assured her he would be more active in politics from now on, sources claimed.
While talking to reporters after his meeting with the prime minister, Ashraful himself declined making any comments on the meeting.
"It is an internal matter," he said.
Ashraful passionately spoke about his dedication to the prime minister and the ruling party, and talked about following his father Syed Nazrul Islam's footsteps, who was acting president during the liberation war in 1971 while Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was imprisoned. After Bangabandhu was murdered in 1975, Nazrul and three others were killed in mysterious circumstances on November 3, 1975, inside the jail after all three of them were arrested by the interim regime. The day is commemorated as Jail Killing Day.
Even though he still holds the position of Public Administration minister, Ashraful has been inactive in politics ever since his wife Shila Islam passed away on October 23 last year. Previously, he served as the general secretary of the party for two terms since 2009.
Sources from Awami League also confirmed that Syed Ashraful Islam has good ties with neighbouring countries India and China, and his participation in politics before the upcoming elections would help the party maintain cordial relationships with the countries.
Several members of the Awami League central working committee told the Dhaka Tribune that Ashraful's political experience and his clean image would help the party garner support from foreign dignitaries in Bangladesh.
During the army backed caretaker government in 2007, Syed Ashraful Islam took charge of the Awami League as acting general secretary and fought against reformists who wanted to exclude Sheikh Hasina from politics.
In 2009, he was elected general secretary, and held that post before Awami League declared its 20th council on October 21 and 22 in 2016. Obaidul Quader was elected as the general secretary instead. Ashraful is a presidium member of Awami League.
Because of his reticent personality and clean image, Ashraful has gained huge popularity among the general public. Politicians from other parties respect him as well as his own party politicians.