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Dhaka Tribune

UPAZILA POLLS

AL MPs defying party command against influence

  • Lawmakers backing upazila election candidates 
  • Family members of MPs discouraged from attending polls activities
  • Awami League wants an influence-free election
Update : 19 Apr 2024, 12:02 AM

Despite repeatedly warning its lawmakers against impacting the forthcoming upazila elections, to be held in several phases, the ruling Awami League is struggling to stop its MPs from backing the candidates.

Allegations continue to emerge that several ruling party lawmakers have been actively involved in the upcoming elections, with the first phase slated for May 8.

From the very beginning of the election process, the party on several occasions issued the instruction – to avoid getting involved in the polls – to ensure a competitive election with a healthy voter turnout.

The instruction was also meant for the Awami League leaders who won as independent candidates in the last general election. 

Sources within the party named many lawmakers who are openly supporting their favourite candidates, reportedly in a bid to deepen their “dominance” in their respective areas.  

In many upazilas, MPs are silently working for their respective aspirants.  

Grave allegations 

As the chairman candidate, Atahar Ishraq, popularly known as Shahab Chowdhury, is contesting the Subarnachar Upazila Election of Noakhali.

He is the son of the constituency's (Noakhali-4) ruling party lawmaker, Ekramul Karim Chowdhury.

Recently a video clip has spread over social media where Ekramul Karim said development work would be stopped if his son is not elected.

In Natore, an upazila chairman candidate was kidnapped on Monday while completing his nomination process.

Local lawmaker and State for Information and Communication Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak and his supporters were blamed for this incident.

In Tangail, the president and general secretary of an upazila unit of the ruling party submitted a written complaint against local lawmaker and Awami League Presidium Member Abdur Razzaque centering the upazila election.

In Hatia Upazila of Noakhali, two-term former lawmaker Ayesha Ferdous and her son Ashik Ali are vying for the chairman’s post. 

Local unit Awami League President and Noakhali-6 MP Mohammad Ali is backing his wife and son to ensure his political succession.

The same picture has surfaced in Narsingdhi, Munsiganj, Bogra and some other districts where local lawmakers are backing the candidates having family ties with them.

Party chief wary of influence  

Amid this scenario at the grassroots level, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina sat with the party’s general secretary, Obaidul Quader, yesterday morning and gave instructions on stopping party lawmakers from influencing the upazila polls.

After that, Obaidul Quader went to the Awami League party office in Dhanmondi and shared the message with organizing secretaries and concerned secretaries.

Awami League leaders, who were present at the meeting, told Dhaka Tribune that the party chief ordered the MPs to be silent in the upazila polls and stop supporting any candidates.

Family members of Awami League lawmakers are being discouraged from contesting the polls in order to ensure an influence-free and competitive election, they said.

When contacted, Awami League Organizing Secretary Abu Sayeed Al Mahmood Swapan said: “We requested the party lawmakers not to set any candidate from their families.

“We served a reminder that every lawmaker should maintain the code of conduct of the election,” he said.

In some areas, family members of the local lawmakers are already serving as upazila chairman. 

S M Kamal Hossain, another organizing secretary of Awami League said: “A candidate, who is a family member of an MP and already involved in politics, is not the same as one who was never linked to political activities despite being the relative of a lawmaker.   

“Our message is clear: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wants a free, credible and festive election across the country. She will not tolerate any interference in the election,” he added Kamal Hossain.

The next session of parliament will commence on May 2 when the House leader, Sheikh Hasina, may call a meeting of the Awami League Parliamentary Party, sources said.

In that meeting, she may convey an even clearer message to the party lawmakers, they concluded.

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