Familial fiasco in upazila polls: Awami League policymaker to meet on Tuesday

DhakaTribune || Shining BD

Published: 4/30/2024 7:26:40 AM

In defiance of party directives, numerous relatives of Awami League lawmakers and ministers are set to participate in the second phase of upazila parishad polls on May 21, mirroring the pattern of the initial phase slated for May 8. 

The race for upazila parishad chairmen’s positions will include at least a dozen close relatives of ruling party MPs, causing dissatisfaction among grassroots leaders and activists.

Candidates have until Tuesday to end their chairmanship bids. As of the filing of the report on Monday, the chances of the mentioned relatives retracting their nominations appeared slim. 

Dhaka Tribune talked to several candidates, who claimed that these relatives of lawmakers and ministers were not only participating in the elections but also intimidating their opponents, asking them to withdraw their candidacies in order to obtain uncontested victory.

Several candidates have already filed written complaints to Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home on Monday after a six-day visit to Thailand. The party’s central working committee will convene at Ganabhaban, the prime minister’s official residence, at 7pm on Tuesday.

Several central committee leaders confirmed that the meeting would discuss an action plan for those violating the party's decisions.

Awami League Presidium Member Advocate Md Qamrul Islam said on Monday that the committee would discuss issues regarding the upazila elections and would disclose its decisions after the meeting.

While talking to this correspondent, some divisional organizing secretaries of the Awami League said they had prepared a list of upazilas where the relatives of MPs and ministers were taking part in the elections and would submit it in the meeting.

Before the finalization of nomination papers for the first phase of the upazila parishad polls, the Awami League had instructed its lawmakers not to get involved, asking them to discourage their relatives from contesting the elections as well.

A few ministers and lawmakers complied with the decision and had their relatives withdraw nominations but others did not do the same..

Relatives in second phase of election

In Comilla Sadar upazila, former finance minister and local lawmaker AHM Mustafa Kamal’s brother Golam Sarowar is seeking the office of chairman.

In Barura upazila of Comilla, Hamid Latif Bhuiyan, brother of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, is contesting the election for the same post.

In Lakshmipur, the brother-in-law of local lawmaker Nur Uddin Chowdhury Noyon is vying to become chairman.  

In Palash upazila of Narsingdi, local lawmaker Anwarul Ashraf Khan’s brother-in-law Shariful Hoque, and in Shibpur of the same district, the wife of local lawmaker Md Shirajul Islam Mollah, Ferdousi Islam, is looking to get elected chairman.

Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun’s younger brother Nazrul Mazid Shopon is running for the office of chairman in Monohardi upazila. Shopon is joint general secretary of the district unit of the Awami League.

The situation is similar in several upazilas of Natore, Lalmonirhat, Bogra, Chuadanga and other districts as well.

Party optimistic

Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the party was still optimistic that the candidates would obey the party’s decision in order to make the elections competitive.

Even though the deadline for withdrawing candidacies, as set by the Election Commission, had passed, there was still room for action as candidates could stand aside right up until the day before the election, Quader, who is also road transport and bridges minister, said last week.

Implying measures against the lawmakers disobeying the party’s decision, the minister said: “We have provisions for disciplinary action in our party… We made some decisions before the national parliamentary election.”

Shining BD