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Dhaka Tribune

‘Grassroots in disarray’

Update : 10 Jul 2013, 04:42 AM

The grassroots level of Awami League in Gazipur is in disarray, with most local leaders vying only for their own interests. This disorder was the chief cause of the party’s recent defeat at the Gazipur City Corporation elections.

Many of the grassroots leaders are now pointing their fingers at a number of key factors – poor ward-level campaigning, national issues, internal conflicts, the visible rift in the party over the two candidates and a failure to evaluate grassroots party workers – as reasons behind the catastrophic loss.    

“The organisational weakness at district and grassroots levels was palpable long before the election campaign got underway,” said Kapasia Upazila Unit Awami League President Muhammad Shahidullah.

“Campaign activities down to the ward level were unplanned and uncoordinated. Also, all party leaders and activists did not throw their weights behind Azmat Ullah,” he said.

AL-backed mayor aspirant Azmat Ullah Khan lost to BNP’s MA Mannan in the July 6 Gazipur City Corporation elections.

In each ward, more than one Awami League candidate contested for councillor posts. Most of them did not spare a moment to seek votes for Azmat. Some local leaders are saying that the party should have picked its councillor aspirants for each ward as well.

Sripur Upazila General Secretary Mostafizur Rahman Bulbul said the government’s failure to convince the people on Hefazat, Garmeen Bank, Rana Plaza and GSP suspension issues had a great influence on the polls.

“It took some 15 days for the party to settle the Jahangir issue. Our campaigning got delayed for 15 days, which wasn’t at all favourable for us,” Sadar Upazila General Secretary Ataullah Mandal said.

He said the party should have kept Jahangir Alam in the election for strategic reasons.

“His staying in the race would have resulted in the splitting of votes at the northern part of the corporation, which would ultimately increase Azmat’s votes,” he said.

Mandal also blamed Gazipur’s ruling party lawmakers for not making significant contributions to the district’s development, which he said had contributed to the decline in votes. 

The small amount of campaigning that did take place in favour of Azmat was poor and misdirected, according to several local leaders. One activist alleged that most local leaders had put up “manpower and motorcade displays” instead of seeking votes in the run-up to the elections.

Party heavyweights who came to Gazipur before the polls to campaign for Azmat were mostly accompanied by their friends and family and could not connect to the locals.

In reply to all these allegations, the member secretary of the Azmat’s election coordination committee – local lawmaker Jahid Ahsan Rasel – was defensive and tried to shift the blame onto the voters.

“Campaigns were conducted according to plan. But it wasn’t enough to persuade migrant voters,” Rasel said.

“The 18-party alliance launched a smear campaign against the government over national issues like Hefazat and Rana Plaza collapse and managed to mislead them.

“But we did not deviate from our principles and tried to make them understand what actually happened. People preferred to be deceived by our contenders’ false talk rather than paying heed to what we had to say,” Rasel said.

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