In an exclusive interview with the Dhaka Tribune, Awami League Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman discusses his views on the newly held Khulna city polls, Bangladesh Chhatra League and the upcoming national polls
The Khulna City Corporation election was held without any major violence. Considering that the national polls are only seven months away, how significant was this election?
It does not matter that the Khulna city polls was held only months before the national polls. What is important here is that people recognized Awami League's and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's achievements, which is why they voted for the Awami League. The same confidence in the party will be reflected in upcoming national elections.
BNP has rejected Khulna polls results, alleging that it was rigged. What would you say to that, especially in the context of the upcoming national polls?
This is nothing new for BNP. Whenever they lose an election, they reject the result. I don't think there is any scope of spreading fear among the people in the country regarding the national polls. The election will take place in due time, and it will take place as per the constitution.
BNP said they would not take part in the election without their chief Khaleda Zia. Is it possible to hold a participatory election without a major political party like the BNP, or are you working to ensure that they take part in it?
Those who want to make BNP's participation compulsory in the election have ulterior motives. There are 41 other registered political parties in Bangladesh, so there is no reason to think that the election will not be participatory without BNP.
In the recent years, election of top leaders in Bangladesh Chhatra League was much appreciated both by the Chhatra League members and general students. This time, however, the leaders will be selected. Do you think it will have any impact on the upcoming election?
I don't think so. Since Bangabandhu, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is the only guardian of Chhatra League. In the past, the president and the general secretary of this organization have always been selected following Sheikh Hasina's directives.
However, in the last few committees, the top leaders were elected through voting. The outcome of those elections was not as we had expected. We learnt that bringing out the best leaders in the organization was somehow obstructed by the election process. So this time, the Chhatra League leaders have created a list of eligible candidates for the top posts in the organization as per Sheikh Hasina's directives. I think this would be in Chhatra League's best interests.
There is a controversy over the maximum age limit for the candidates vying for the top posts. Could you please shed some light on that?
Our leader Sheikh Hasina has fixed the maximum age of eligibility to be 28 years. This means members who are even 28 years and 364 days old at the time of the selection will be eligible for candidacy.
What do you expect from a top Chhatra League leader?
A Chhatra League leader should be an ideal follower of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He will work to fulfil Bangabandhu's dream to make Bangladesh the country for all, participate in the practice of democracy, and be an honest leader.
A Chhatra League leader must work for the betterment of students, understand their views and work to protect their rights.
What do you think was the impact of Sheikh Hasina's homecoming in 1981 on the party?
When Bangabandhu was assassinated in 1975, his killers also attacked the spirit of the Liberation War and tried to establish a pro-Pakistan state. When his daughter Sheikh Hasina finally returned to the country six years later, we felt as if our Father of the Nation had returned. The spirit of the Liberation War was revived, and we started believing again that we could defeat the anti-Liberation forces active on our land. The country's economic freedom, increasing foreign investment and foreign reserve, social welfare – all were possible due to her return.
ICT advancement is a major interest among the country's youth, which is evident by the enthusiasm generated by the launch of Bangabandhu-1 satellite. Do you think this success will influence young voters to choose Awami League in the national polls?
It is the young generation who will enjoy the benefits of Digital Bangladesh. Having our own satellite certainly has a number of benefits – better DTH services, telecommunication services, cheaper costs for TV channels, better disaster management, and better research opportunities on forests, oceans, and space.
If we can cash in on the young voters' interests and work accordingly, we will definitely get their votes.