Looking ahead 2018: AL to put all its effort on resolving internal conflicts

Looking ahead 2018: AL to put all its effort on resolving internal conflicts

‘If we lose the by-polls, BNP will say that our popularity has dwindled, and if BNP wins it, then we will have to face tougher competition in all upcoming elections’

The ruling Awami League is planning to launch a massive campaign early next month with the 11th parliamentary election just over a year away.

Describing 2017 as a “phenomenal year”, party leaders highlighted the praise of the international community for the government’s support of the persecuted Rohingya people who had fled from strife-torn Rakhine state in Myanmar.

The leaders, however, said they are on guard against complacency as they traverse the political landscape of the coming days and weeks, as the country prepares for the much-hyped polls which the government wants to be held by December 2018.

For the Awami League to come to power for the third consecutive term, they think that they need to concentrate on launching nationwide electoral campaigns, resolving intra-party conflicts, and choosing the right candidates.

Awami League office secretary and special assistant to the prime minister, Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap, said the ruling party will form eight teams according to the party chief’s directives, and devise a plan to tour around its 78 organizational districts.

“The party’s top brass have distributed responsibilities among its four joint general secretaries and eight organizing secretaries to reinforce the organisation from top to bottom,” he said.

Awami League presidium member Muhammad Faruk Khan said the main objectives of the forthcoming campaign is to further strengthen the organization at the grassroots level by resolving internal feuds and mobilizing public support in favour of the party.

“Another objective is to collect latest information from the grassroots level in order to update our party chief on the party’s ground-level scenarios,” he said.

Dilemma over DNCC mayoral polls

Party insiders told the Dhaka Tribune that the Awami League is in a dilemma over the February 2018 by-polls to Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), as it is facing some difficulty in choosing a candidate to fill the huge void left by mayor Annisul Huq, who died recently.

A group of the party’s policymakers believe the Awami League should demonstrate its organizational strength by holding the polls on time, while some other leaders think that the party should not even field a candidate.

Saying it will be impossible to find another candidate like Annisul, the second faction also thinks that losing the polls will tarnish the party’s image irreparably.

They said that even if the Awami League-nominated candidate wins the polls, BNP might accuse the ruling party of rigging it and say the present administration is not capable of holding a free and fair election.

This, in turn, might put the Awami League in a tight spot ahead of the parliamentary election slated for December 2018.

“If we lose the by-polls, BNP will say that our popularity has dwindled, and if BNP wins it, then we will have to face tougher competition in all upcoming elections,” an Awami League presidium member told the Dhaka Tribune, preferring to be anonymous.

The DNCC by-polls apart, the ruling party has to nominate candidates with clean image for elections to the Khulna, Barisal, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Gazipur city corporations.

Insiders also said Awami League should keep in mind its crushing defeat in the recently concluded Rangpur city corporation polls, or else it might also lose the other city corporation polls.

Electoral preparations

According to party insiders, Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed central leaders to fan out across the country and highlight the government’s success stories and achievements among the people.

Hasina, who visited Jessore yesterday, also asked the party’s general secretary Obaidul Quader to delegate responsibilities to eight divisional teams, each involving central leaders and two presidium members.

During a December 23 meeting of Awami League presidium members at Ganabhaban in Dhaka, the premier discussed a number of issues including preparations for the parliamentary polls.

Sources said the Awami League plans to hold programmes on a day-to-day basis in 2018.

In January, it will organise programmes to observe the anniversary (January 5) of the last general polls that was boycotted by all opposition parties including the BNP. In February, it will hold events throughout the month to observe International Mother Language Day.

The party will also arrange different programmes on a regular basis between March and August.

Party policymakers said they were conducting several surveys to come up with an action plan and uncover answers to some questions about the polls, especially regarding candidates.

According to party insiders, the surveys are being conducted by various domestic and international organizations to find the right candidates, as the top brass have said they will not nominate controversial people to contest the election this time.

Intra-Awami League feuds

Most of the surveys have suggested the Awami League should focus on resolving its internal conflicts. Infighting has become the biggest challenge for the ruling party, with a larger number of aspirants vying for Awami League tickets to contest the polls.

Many aspirants say that the party will face difficulties in picking candidates as there is a possibility that those left in the cold may contest as renegades, thereby taking bites out of the party’s vote bank.

Party insiders said internal feuds between several leaders contributed to the Awami League’s defeat in Rangpur and Comilla city elections last year year.

However, two presidium members of the party said the high command was aware of the bickering at the grassroots and district levels and is trying to quickly resolve the conflicts and come up with the best 300 candidates to field in the polls.

“At some places, leaders of our party have been divided over establishing supremacy,” Awami League Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman said.

“We’ll close the gaps between them. We’ll start visiting each district in January in a bid to unite leaders and activists at the grassroots level.”

Earlier, party chief Hasina asked central leaders not to get involved in criminal activities or internal conflicts ahead of the election, sources said.

Choosing right candidates a big challenge

With the BNP scrambling to select their ideal candidates for all 300 seats as it prepares to join the fray this time, infighting in Awami League simply means it will lose votes that could fall into the bags of other contenders.

The ruling party will face another threat if HM Ershad’s Jatiya Party seeks to leave the Awami League-led alliance and battle it out in the polls on its own.

A recent Dhaka Tribune report highlighted that there were at least five to six nomination seekers in each constituency. The number was even higher in some constituencies.

Awami League’s Jamalpur sadar unit chief Abdul Mannan Khan attributed the rise in the number of candidates to what he called “the controversial activities of incumbent MPs.”

Mannan, also one of the aspirants for Jamalpur 5 seat, said, however, that they would work for the party’s chosen candidate in the polls. “If the party chooses wrong candidates, then there’s a chance that we will lose seats,” he said.

Source: Dhaka Tribune.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *