The ruling Awami League has taken fresh initiatives to hold councils at its grassroots-level units including the districts though it had failed to do so since 2009.
Party President Sheikh Hasina yesterday declared formation of seven different teams to coordinate the long-due conferences of grassroots units with a view to strengthen the organisation.
Addressing a joint meeting of the party’s Working Committee along with the Advisory Council at her official residence Ganabhaban, the Prime Minister told her party colleagues to bring pace in organisational activities by holding the councils.
“Organisation is the key and it has to be well-organised,” she said stressing that new leadership should be nurtured.
“The seven teams will visit the districts for holding council sessions properly. They will have to solve the organisational problems to strengthen the party,” Hasina said.
According to party sources, Awami League took initiatives at least five times to complete all the grassroots-level councils including the district units after the party’s 18th central council – held in July 2009. However, the efforts failed due to internal feud in the party’s local units and inertia of some leaders responsible to address the conflicts.
The sources say after assuming office, many party leaders and activists from grassroots to central unit have been involved in activities to gain personally, rather than making the party stronger.
A secretary of Khulna division wishing anonymity said: “Despite the fact that we are in power, the party is weakening day by day. Now we have no intention to strengthen the organisation as we are busy to meet our own demands.”
According to the party charter, the council at every level should be held every three years, but there are numerous grassroots units including districts which did not see councils in two decades.
A big portion of the party leaders blamed the general secretary, Syed Ashraful Islam, for the failure to hold the grassroots councils. Terming Ashraf a proficient politician, they think that had the secretary given more attention to the party activities, most of the local councils would have been completed.
Motiur Rahman, president of Sunamganj district unit Awami League, said they were ready to hold the council but did not see any initiative from the central committee.
“Initiatives were taken three times to hold the council when [late] Abdul Jalil was the party’s general secretary. But all efforts were in vain due to internal conflicts of Abdus Samad Azad [former Presidium member] and Suranjit Sengupta [Advisory Council member],” Motiur told the Dhaka Tribune.
He claimed that not a single initiative was taken after Ashraf had taken chair as the party’s general secretary. “He is a good man, his political decision is also unique but he does not move for the party,” Motiur said adding that the last district council had taken place in 1997.
On May 14 this year, the Awami League Working Committee assigned Ashraf, also the LGRD minister, to finalise a roadmap to hold the district councils after discussions with the party’s divisional organising secretaries and joint secretaries.
Ashraf announced dates to hold councils in eight district units along with his own district Kishoreganj by July this year. But only the council to Munshiganj district unit has been held so far.
A senior leader of Kishoreganj district unit told the Dhaka Tribune that they heard about holding the council but were yet to take any preparation.
“We have ended councils in a number of upazilas, unions and ward units as preparation for holding the district unit council,” the leader said.
The last council of Kishoreganj was held in 1998 and it secretary Shamsul Haque died in 1999. On becoming the speaker of parliament in 2009, Abdul Hamid left his position as its president.
After failing to hold the councils in 2010, 2011 and 2012, the Awami League in December 2012 conducted its 19th central council, and within that time, the councils to only 12 out of 73 district units were held. At that time, more than half of upazilas, municipalities, unions and ward councils were due.
Party’s Joint Secretary Mahbub Ul Alam Hanif admitted that they could not hold the councils in keeping with the party charter. “Holding councils is a long process. As a democratic party, we need to follow all the due procedures.
“As we are in power, we could not give more attention for the party,” he told the Dhaka Tribune. “To some aspect, it is true that we were not able to hold the councils due to internal conflicts. But we hope to hold the district unit councils by December next year,” he added.