With multiple aspirant candidates already campaigning hard in almost all constituencies, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina last night issued a tough warning to those looking to contest the election as rebels.
“Once a rebel, forever a rebel,” three sources quoted Hasina as telling at a joint meeting of the party’s central working committee, advisory council and the AL Parliamentary Party at the Gono Bhaban.
If anyone goes against the party decision to run in the election, they will be expelled from the party for life, the sources added, quoting the prime minister.
Hasina also asked her party leaders to throw their weight behind the party-nominated candidates in the upcoming election.
The party may change its candidate even on the last date of nomination withdrawal. Party leaders must accept that decision and demonstrate a mentality of sacrifice, she told the meeting.
In almost each of the 300 constituencies, there are four, five or even more aspirants. This has caused a major headache for the party high-ups already, as multiple candidates in the same constituency could affect the election results.
In almost all local government elections in the last 10 years, dissidents were the main problem for the party. In many places, AL candidates lost because of their party rivals.
Under the AL constitution, leaders can be expelled for running against party candidates. Despite the threat, however, party rebels did exactly that in recent years.
More than a dozen AL dissidents won in the January 5, 2014, national election that was boycotted by major political parties. One of them even beat an AL presidium member. But the party did not take any disciplinary action against the rebels.
Intra-party conflicts remain a thorny issue for the party. Over the last four years, leaders of the AL and its affiliated organisations clashed with each other, often violently.
At least 100 people were killed and 8,690 injured in 634 such incidents, according to Ain o Salish Kendra, a leading rights organisation.
At the meeting, Hasina also asked her party leaders not to criticise Hefajat-e Islam, sources said.
Hefajat and Jamaat-e-Islami are not the same thing and they should not be mixed up, she said, asking the party leaders to develop relations with Islamic parties before the election.
The meeting also formed 15 committees to oversee party activities for the national election. A separate core committee with presidium and advisory council members was formed to monitor the activities of these 15 committees. PM’s son and her ICT Affairs adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy is also in the core
Hasina said the party was yet to give green signal to any candidate for the election.
She also alleged that Jatiya Oikyafront, the new alliance of BNP and several other parties, was trying to make the election questionable and controversial.
She instructed her party-men to remain watchful of Oikyafront’s activities.
At the end of the meeting, many party leaders sought her blessings, sources said.
At this, Hasina said she gave them her blessings but not nomination. She also asked them not to publicise the pictures of the meeting to claim that they were given nomination, according to the sources.
The meeting began with Hasina expressing her optimism about AL’s victory, saying pro-liberation forces would remain in power during the golden jubilee celebrations of the country’s independence, reports BSS.
She said the golden jubilee of independence would not be celebrated properly if the pro-liberation forces were not in office. “The Pakistan-lovers will not celebrate it. It’s a reality.”
Blasting those who do not see Bangladesh’s progress, Hasina said one of the leaders who formed Jatiya Oikyafront commented that Pakistan achieved more development than Bangladesh.
“He should be sent to Pakistan to see the actual situation there,” she said.
Talking about Khaleda Zia, the PM said the BNP chief was in jail for embezzling orphans’ money, not for any political reason, reports UNB.
About the new alliance, the PM said Oikyafront leaders alleged that the government did not allow them to hold any rally, but in reality they are holding rallies.
“I told the authorities concerned that democracy prevails in the country. Let them hold as many meetings as they want,” she said.
About the demand for an election-time neutral government, the AL chief said as per the High Court verdict, no unelected government is allowed to come to power.
“How do the great lawyers demand such a government after such a verdict? Why are they demanding formation of another government for the election purpose? Why is this demand? How do they press for it?” she asked.
Hasina questioned the intention of the Oikyafront leaders, saying, “Whether they want election or something else is the big question.”