AL not waking up to reality

In mid-June, the Awami League had described its humiliating defeat in the four city corporation elections as a wake-up call. But Saturday’s stunning defeat in Gazipur, considered as the party’s bastion, is a sign that the party is still sleeping.
In fact, since mid-June the ruling party did not send voters any message that it was correcting itself. It was business as usual everywhere.
Following the defeat in the four city polls on June 15, the AL high-ups, including AMA Muhith, Matia Chowdhury and Obaidul Quader, said it was a wake-up call for the party to make a comeback in the Gazipur City Corporation polls.
But their speeches proved mere rhetoric as the party leadership paid little attention to this end. Instead of rejuvenating the grassroots, the party top brass tasked the central leadership with overseeing the polls campaign.
In the presence of central leaders, grassroots leaders in Gazipur felt they were sidelined and so they remained largely inactive in the campaign.
Some think a three-week gap between the June 15 and July 6 elections was not enough to turn things around. That may be true, but the party did not even initiate the process to utilise the strength of its grassroots.
But now that Gazipur too is lost, top AL leaders want to do some serious soul-searching to get back on track.
“The Awami League should learn from mistakes to avoid a debacle in the next national election as time is running out very fast,” AL Presidium Member Obaidul Quader told The Daily Star yesterday.
Quader, also the communications minister, admitted that the wake-up call did not work in the GCC polls.
Talking to reporters at his ministry office, he said: “We’ll investigate and analyse why people didn’t vote [for the AL-backed candidate]. We’ll draw on the defeat and correct our mistakes to turn the negative votes into positive ones.”
People’s common grievance against the AL is one of the core reasons behind the defeats of the AL-supported contenders, he said, adding that the GCC polls result was a “warning message” for the government.
“We’ll do everything to bring back people’s trust during the next parliamentary elections,” said the AL policymaker.
AL lawmaker Saber Hossain Chowdhury said, “We need to find out why we are not waking up and acting accordingly.
“There should be a detailed, objective analysis of the reasons behind the debacle in the city elections. We need to understand the pulse of the people and reconnect with them. To do so, a process needs to be started immediately before time runs out.”
Saber, a former political secretary to the AL president, said the party needed to prepare a communication strategy and fix who the messenger would be.
Party insiders said the high command was planning to revamp the party leadership following the defeat in the four city polls. But the party is yet to decide on how it should go about it.
A special council might be held after Eid-ul-Fitr to bring in those left out in the last two councils, added the sources.
A top policymaker told this correspondent that he would talk to the party chief about bringing in the “old leadership” to gear up the party activities ahead of the general elections.

Source: The Daily Star

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