POST TIME: 13 January, 2018 12:44:53 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 13 January, 2018 03:54:25 PM
Discontent brews in AL ranks
candidate selection for DNCC mayoral by-polls

Discontent brews in AL ranks

Several Awami League leaders are unhappy with the party’s plan to field a businessman, Atiqul Islam, for the upcoming Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayoral by-polls. “Is there no leader with a clean image in our party? Why the high-ups are overlooking leaders who have sacrificed everything and stood by the party through the years,” a disgruntled AL leader said on condition of anonymity.

The AL top leadership has virtually nominated Atiqul, who is the former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), to contest the DNCC mayoral by-polls slated for February 26.

However, the party would officially announce the candidate’s name at a meeting of its local government nomination board on January 16 at the AL president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s official residence Ganabhaban.

Talking to The Independent, AL central working committee member Anwar Hossain said hiring of businessmen for politics in the name of “clean image” was an ominous sign for the party.

“You should raise the issue in the party press conference and ask the party general secretary why they are choosing a businessman for a crucial race like the DNCC by-polls,” he suggested to this correspondent.

Responding to a question on the issue, an AL joint general secretary, on condition of anonymity, said, “Nowadays, politics have gone in the hands of businessmen. We have nothing to do in this regard as our party chief will take the final decision at the local government nomination board meeting on January 16.”

On the other hand, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader defended the action at a press conference on Thursday, saying “A political party always maintains some strategy during the election time. Hiring businessmen for AL politics is part of our political strategy,” he said.

At the same time, Quader clarified that the party was yet to take a final decision on its candidate for the DNCC by-polls.

“But we will definitely pick up someone who is sympathetic to our party’s ideology. Yes, some aspirants have met our party chief, but that does not mean that AL has finalised its candidate. We will sit with our party president and local government nomination board and take a final decision in this regard,” he added.

Besides Atiqul, Poet Russel Ashequi, who was the media coordinator of AL in 2008 and 2014 elections, is also a keen contender for the party ticket.

Atiqul and Russel have met Sheikh Hasina and expressed their desire to contest the upcoming DNCC by-election. Both have claimed that Hasina has given them the green signal to contest the by-polls. They have also carried out mass-contact programmes and distributed leaflets in different areas of DNCC.

Another mayoral aspirant, Adam Tamizi Haque, who is the managing director of Haque Group of Industries, on Wednesday met Quader and expressed his desire to contest the by-election as the AL candidate.

On Tuesday, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda had announced the schedule of DNCC by-election and fixed February 26 as the voting day.

As per the schedule, the last date for submission of nomination papers is January 18. The nomination papers will be scrutinised between January 21 and 22, and the last date of withdrawal of nomination form is January 29.

The post of the DNCC mayor fell vacant after Annisul Huq passed away on November 30 last year. The local government division declared the post vacant on December 1, 2017.

Meanwhile, BNP is expected to field party leader Tabith Awal for the mayoral by-polls.

Tabith ran against AL’s Annisul Huq in the previous election after the government had split the Dhaka City Corporation into two in November 2011.

However, Tabith had alleged widespread rigging and boycotted the polls halfway through voting day. Consequently, Annisul was elected mayor on April 28, 2015.

In terms of population, the DNCC is the country’s largest city corporation with 23.45 lakh voters.