Dhaka,  Saturday
20 April 2024

AL MPs, ministers backing their chosen candidates

Staff Reporter 

Published: 07:48, 3 April 2024

Update: 11:36, 3 April 2024

AL MPs, ministers backing their chosen candidates

Photo : Collected

As the country braces for the forthcoming upazila parishad elections, a notable departure from tradition has emerged within the ruling Awami League. 

In an unprecedented move, the party has opted not to nominate any official candidates for the polls slated to begin next month. Instead, its Members of Parliament (MPs) and ministers are throwing their weight behind their favoured contenders, presenting a unique challenge for the party's hierarchy to manage internal dynamics.

To address this unconventional approach, the Awami League's top echelon has initiated deliberations with MPs and ministers from various divisions. 

Recently, the party's General Secretary Obaidul Quader convened meetings with leaders, MPs, and ministers from Rangpur and Chattogram divisions at the Awami League central office in the capital. During the discussions, Quader issued directives to party members, MPs, and ministers, stressing the importance of adhering to the party's stance on the local body elections and refraining from meddling in the electoral process.

Quader firmly said, "Influence in the polls by MPs would disrupt the entire process to promote their chosen candidates, which cannot be allowed. No interference will be tolerated."

The absence of official Awami League candidates has given a competitive edge to the upazila parishad elections this time around. Nevertheless, the party's MPs, ministers, and grassroots leaders are actively backing their favoured aspirants across different regions. Some have already touted their preferred candidates as de facto party nominees. Consequently, internal discord within the Awami League has escalated following the parliamentary elections held on January 7.

Though internal dissent within major political parties is typically minimal, tensions surged surrounding the January 7 elections. The encouragement of independent candidates within the Awami League ranks led to factional opposition based on parliamentary seats during the polls.

Meanwhile, in a bid to safeguard the integrity and impartiality of the forthcoming upazila parishad elections, the Awami League has issued stringent organizational directives to its party functionaries, ministers, and lawmakers. Quader emphasized the party's unwavering commitment to ensuring a free, fair, and peaceful electoral process, warning against any illicit attempts to interfere in the election proceedings.

With the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) unlikely to field candidates on a party basis, the contest primarily revolves around Awami League affiliates. The campaigning for the first phase of the Upazila Parishad elections is set to kick off after Eid, raising concerns about potential power struggles in certain areas.

The elections, scheduled in four phases across 481 Upazila Parishads nationwide, will commence on May 8, with details already unveiled for 152 Upazila Parishads. Nomination papers can be submitted until April 15, followed by the commencement of campaigning on April 23.

In a recent survey across 17 districts, eight Awami League MPs, ministers, and state ministers have either declared their candidacies or voiced support for candidates. While formal announcements are pending in most regions, local MPs are rallying behind their preferred contenders.

In an intriguing development, Kalapara Upazila Parishad in Patuakhali witnessed the nomination of two individuals as 'party candidates' for the chairman and vice-chairman positions. This move has sparked interest among several local Awami League leaders, with some viewing it as a challenge to party discipline.

Regarding candidacies, Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mahibur Rahman remarked, "They are candidates from our party, they wish to contest the polls, and I have acknowledged that. There is no opportunity to nominate party candidates."

In Islampur Upazila of Jamalpur, discussions are underway for the second phase of elections, with three local Awami League leaders vying for candidacy. During a special extended meeting, MP and Religious Affairs Minister Faridul Haque Khan declared himself as the sole candidate for the chairman position.

In response to these developments, AL Organizing Secretary Mirza Azam emphasized the party's stance against MPs and ministers fielding their candidates for the Upazila elections. He reiterated that every party member must abide by the decisions of the party leadership. While affirming the right of individuals to run as candidates independently, he clarified that they would not enjoy the party's endorsement. Azam assured that no punitive actions would be taken against such candidates as the decision for open elections had been made centrally.