At favourable time, AL favours polls preps

Anwar Hossain | Update:

Passing the most favourable time of its tenure since the 2014 controversial elections and subsequent political unrest, ruling Bangladesh Awami League has found the opportune moment for making preparations for the next parliamentary polls.

Accordingly, party leaders say, AL president premier Sheikh Hasina has asked the party's members of parliament (MPs) to increase contact with the masses and resolve intra-party conflicts in their constituencies.

According to some senior leaders, the party is trying its best to 'put its house in order', given the likelihood of the opposition BNP's joining of the electoral battle unlike its boycott in 2014.

Appointment of a 'chosen' election commission has offered comfort to the AL leaders, party sources have confirmed. The Canadian court verdict on the Padma case is being seen as another 'good news'.

However, the AL, a policymaker said, is concerned about internal strife and the MPs' alienation from the people -- two key issues that have been reflected in recent surveys conducted at the directive of Hasina.

"Party chief Sheikh Hasina has been very serious about the next elections. At every party forum, she called for making preparations. She has organised surveys in every six months to assess popularity of each MP and find out alternatives in weak constituencies," said an AL leader.

Despite the 'good time' right now, another senior leader pointed out, the Awami League has 127 MPs elected without any contest.

In addition, he said, more than 50 MPs are new entrants in politics or privileged for their family background.

"It's not sure how some of them will fare in genuine electoral battle. That's why party leader Sheikh Hasina has asked them to improve mass contact," the AL leader said.

At the parliamentary party meeting last week, premier Hasina claimed that the popularity of the AL and the government is at its own height. "But that is not the last word in each constituency. You’ve to resolve conflicts and reach out to the people," she was said to have insisted.

The AL chief told the MPs that nomination would be issued to those who would prove to be popular in surveys to be conducted in the coming days.

When asked, AL presidium member Faruk Khan said the party chief had asked them to get united before the next polls. "The Awami League is in a comfortable position because the government is doing good works," he claimed.

The senior leaders have already started holding meetings with the party workers in different parts of the country to resolve the conflicts. The AL general secretary, Obaidul Quader, is visiting different districts for the purpose.

Premier Hasina is joining public meetings, keeping an eye on the elections.

The AL's law affairs secretary Abdul Matin Khasru expressed his views that it is almost confirmed that the BNP would contest the next election and there would be 'strong competition'.

"That's why the party has asked the leaders to remind the people of the development achieved in the past eight years. She also asked the party leaders to resolve conflicts," he said.

At the moment, the BNP is under pressure for the pending graft cases against the BNP chief, Khaleda Zia. The AL government wants to exploit every opportunity of keeping such pressure and draw political dividend, AL leaders said.

One of them mentioned that they had damaged the strength of BNP’s ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, and reduced to the ground the potential rise of the Hefajat-e-Islam. "Islamic forces are under control of the government," he pointed out.

The AL leaders think following nationalist upsurge in Europe and America with the election of Donald Trump, the West would hardly focus on Bangladesh politics, offering further comfort to the AL.


*The article originally came out in Prothom Alo print edition and was rewritten in English by Sitesh Kumar Saha

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