According to party sources, aspirants from every constituency are trying to grab party nominations for the next election. Most aspiring leaders and incumbent lawmakers are engaged in smear campaigns, despite repeated warnings from the party brass who say this only serves to tarnish the party’s image among voters
Internal feuding continues to be a thorn in the side of the ruling Awami League ahead of the 11th general elections.
With elections just four months away, party bosses say solving internal conflicts is the party’s main challenge.
Senior Awami League leaders have taken several initiatives to defuse internal conflicts. But efforts to forge unity and ensure discipline have failed to yield satisfactory results.
According to party sources, aspirants from every constituency are trying to grab party nominations for the next election. Most aspiring leaders and incumbent lawmakers are engaged in smear campaigns, despite repeated warnings from the party brass who say this only serves to tarnish the party’s image among voters.
Too many candidates?
Amid the fierce negative campaigning, choosing the right candidate is now a big challenge for the Awami League, which is eyeing its third consecutive term in power. It is now working to solve the squabbles inside the party and come up with the best 300 candidates to field in the polls.
With Khaleda Zia’s BNP, which is struggling to select ideal candidates for all 300 seats, preparing to join the fray, more infighting in the Awami League simply means it will lose votes that could go into the bags of either the BNP or other contenders.
The ruling party will face another threat if HM Ershad’s Jatiya Party chooses to battle it out in the next polls on its own, leaving the Awami League-led alliance.
In Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader’s view, the party lost in the Comilla, Rangpur and Sylhet City Corporation elections due to internal feuds.
A recent Dhaka Tribune survey found that there were at least five to six nomination seekers in each constituency. The number was even higher in some constituencies.
For example, 11 Awami League leaders from Jamalpur-5 constituency say they hope to represent the party in the next election. There are 10 nomination seekers each for Nilphamari-4 and Narail-2 constituencies.
Party insiders said the aspirants have already hit the campaign trail and are keeping in touch with the party’s top brass to get on the party ticket.
The Awami League’s Jamalpur sadar unit chief Abdul Mannan Khan said that if the party chooses the wrong candidates then there’s a chance that it will lose seats.
Several district-level leaders claimed that each and every unit of the party was divided and many leaders think they are the most suitable candidate for the next election, even though many of them are not committed to the party.
Awami League Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman said the high number of candidates was a “very positive” sign.
“This will help us to find the most suitable candidates,” he said.
Recently, the Awami League central committee called the party’s Rajshahi units including city, district and upazila, to Dhaka and urged leaders to work together and forget previous conflicts.
Central leaders also warned that they would not allow conflict in the party.
“Conflict related leaders will be punished without mercy,” said Quader.
Leadership urges resolution
The ruling party will have a tough time picking candidates and there is the possibility that those left in the cold may contest as renegades and take bites out of the party’s vote bank, according to Awami League senior leaders.
Sources told the Dhaka Tribune that the Awami League high command is aware of the bickering at the grassroots and district levels and is trying hard to quickly resolve issues.
But major conflicts between the district leaders and lawmakers often present an intractable problem.
Senior leaders have admitted that their initiatives to resolve conflicts among leaders have gone in vain.
To resolve the problem, Awami League’s senior leaders toured all districts unit and sat with local leaders. During the meetings, Awami League senior leaders warned local leaders that if they failed to resolve conflicts then strict actions would be taken.
Even Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina arranged several meetings last June with district and grassroots leaders to resolve internal conflicts, boosting party activities and informing people about the government’s development successes.
During the meetings, Hasina warned leaders involved in feuds to reconcile and unite.
But efforts taken by the party have not borne fruit.
The prime minister urged the aspirants of next general election to shun all conflicts and propaganda against one another and work together to ensure victory of the ‘Boat’ in the next general election, no matter who gets the party ticket in their constituency.
Awami League Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman admitted that Awami League is suffering due to internal conflicts and resolving the conflicts was still a great challenge for party unity.
Election tours to resolve conflicts
An Awami League delegation, led by party General Secretary Obaidul Quader, departed Kamalapur Railway Station for Nilphamari by train yesterday, aiming to carry out electioneering in the northern districts.
The delegation will hold more than 11 rallies at railway stations in Tangail, Pabna, Natore, Bogra, Jaipurhat, Dinajpur and Nilphamari districts.
Though the tour’s aim was to get the message of development projects carried out by the government to the grassroots level and strengthen the party, resolving conflicts has become the main target.
Awami League will arrange several other tours across the country where resolving conflicts will be the main issue, party insiders said.
According to senior Awami League leaders, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already ordered senior leaders to resolve the internal conflicts by any means.
Strict action against rebel candidates
In every election, including parliamentary and local government polls, Awami League candidates have to face rival candidates from their own party. The Awami League so far has not taken any action against rebel candidates.
Sometimes these candidates have even been rewarded if they win an election, which has further encouraged the tendency, claimed Awami League Organizing Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim.
“If we do not take action against rebel candidates, we will never be able to solve internal conflicts. This time the Awami League will take strict action - including banning rebels from the party,” he said.
According to party sources, party president Sheikh Hasina and general secretary Obaidul Quader are of the mind that if party high command fails to minimize internal conflicts then the Awami League will suffer in the upcoming election.
Quader said yesterday that action had already been taken against people who have broken party discipline.
He said: “We have already started taking action. Show-cause letters will be sent to Dinajpur, Rajshahi, Borguna and Sylhet units.”