The election board has earmarked April 4 for holding the polls
A wind of change is in the air as there is a very high possibility of reverting to voting for selecting the new leader of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), which is set to hold its biennial election for 2021-22 term on April 4 this year.
As a part of the election procedure, the BGMEA last week formed a board headed by Syed Ferhat Anwar, director of the Dhaka University's Institute of Business Administration.
The election board has earmarked April 4 for holding the polls, according to BGMEA officials as well as in the commission.
The apparel makers usually elect the leader of their sector’s apex trade body for two years under the banners of Sammilita Parishad and Forum, a panel of BGMEA's registered members.
But since September 2015, the apex trade body of the apparel sector has been selecting presidents on a consensus between members of the two platforms.
At the end of the tenure of Md Atiqul Islam, the current mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation, the consensus to choose a leader through negotiation was initiated.
Under the alleged consensus, Parishad got five posts including that of the president, first vice-president, senior vice-president, second vice-president and one vice-president.
On the other hand, the Forum was given three vice-president posts.
After Islam, Md Siddiqur Rahman ran the association from September 2015 until April 2019.
Rahman served the association for three years and seven months, after getting extension three times from the Department of Trade Organisation (DTO) of the commerce ministry.
At the end of Rahman’s tenure, the Forum platform was supposed to take the BGMEA's helm, but the trade body had to hold an election to transit power to Forum after a group of exporters formed a new platform called the Shadhinata Parishad to contest through direct voting to reinstate their voting rights.
As a result, there was an election but it was widely criticised as there was an allegation of rigging, while the leaders of the newly-formed panel were facing harassment to cast votes as well as to seek votes from the members.
However, Forum, led by Rubana Huq, the current BGMEA president, won the election and took charge for the 2019-2020 term.
The tenure of the existing board will expire by April this year, and as per the constitution of BGMEA, it is going to hold the elections.
Though there was an attempt to continue the negotiation model for running the trade body, a group consisting of a former president, vice president, directors as well as general members scrapped the plan with the view to bringing accountability among the elected leaders.
They said that electing leaders through voting would make them accountable and responsible towards the members to solve their problems.
The election should be held through direct voting as it makes a leader more accountable towards its members. In elections, a contestant makes a commitment to winning and it brings responsibility, Shahidullah Azim, a former BGMEA vice-president told Dhaka Tribune.
“It is a big sector and the driver of economic growth. The leader should be more knowledgeable and have the quality to run the association effectively to overcome the challenges,” Azim said.
Meanwhile, another director at the current board, seeking anonymity, said democracy should be practised and members should be given the right to vote and elect.
Sammilita Parishad has officially announced Faruque Hassan, managing director of Giant Group and former senior vice-president of the BGMEA, as its panel leader for the election 2021-22.
“Sammilita Parishad has nominated me as the panel leader and I will contest the election as per the decision,” Hassan told Dhaka Tribune.
However, Forum is yet to announce its panel leader’s name for the election.
“We have not finalised our leader to lead the panel yet. But we will announce it within a day or two,” said MA Rahim Feroz, a BGMEA vice president in the current board and a Forum leader.
However, former BGMEA president and Forum leader Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez told Dhaka Tribune that Rubana Huq will contest the next election as the panel leader of Forum.
Huq declined to comment for the report.