Awami League has taken up campaigning for the general election from now, in order to resolve its rampant intraparty feuds. This drive is being carried out alongside the election preparation, said party leaders.
As part of the process, senior leaders of the party from five districts were summoned to Dhaka over the last one week for talks. Awami League (AL) general secretary Obaidul Quader has also held talks with seven members of parliament of the party from areas in and around Dhaka. He has already visited Chittagong and Sylhet to patch up differences among the leaders there. This process is to continue, according to party insiders.
There is also consideration of a possible early election for which preparations are being taken. AL also wants to catch BNP off guard, forcing them to prepare for possible mid-term polls rather than rally for an interim election-time government.
Sources in the ruling AL feel that things are still in the government’s control and BNP remains organisationally weak. Even so, there remains the apprehension that things may go out of control at the last minute if BNP does come to the polls. It is with this in mind that the government is wooing the Islamic parties so they do not side with BNP during the election.
If the elections are to be held within scheduled time at the end of the present parliament’s term, then there is still just a bit less than two years left for the polls. However, the prime minister Sheikh Hasina has been campaigning in the various districts since February. Party general secretary Obaidul Quader and other leaders have also been holding meetings with the party leaders and workers and holding political meetings all over the country.
An AL leader involved in strategising the election campaign told Prothom Alo that there is no guarantee of a win if BNP and the other parties decide to contest in the polls. After all, the AL candidate lost to BNP in the recent Comilla city corporation polls. And before the general elections of 5 January 2014, BNP candidates won in five city corporation polls. However, with the BNP alliance boycotting the national election, AL sailed through virtually uncontested.
After the 5 January election, the leader pointed out, BNP took part in the five-phase upazila election, winning in the first two phases. AL then took steps to ensure victory in the remaining phases ‘at any cost’. They adopted similar strategies in the pourashava and union parishad elections over the last two years. The Awami League candidate Selina Hayat Ivy, however, won without any extra influence in the Narayanganj city corporation election. That is why Awami League is focusing in its chances of winning the next election.
Central leaders and lawmakers of AL feel they may face a stiff challenge in the next parliamentary election. The party has 234 seats in parliament at present and 16 of the independent candidates are basically of the AL camp. The next election may not bode so well for the ruling party.
AL joint general secretary Mahbub Ul Alam Hanif on Friday told Prothom Alo, “We want absolute victory and so are preparing in advance. It takes time to apprise the people of the development we have accomplished in the country. We are working to consolidate our position.”
In the meantime, several AL parliamentarians fear being dropped during this damage control drive. Party sources say about 50 to 70 of the incumbent members of parliament are unlikely to be nominated for the next election.
Obaidul Quader met with three MPs of Mirpur, Dhaka - Kamal Ahmed Majumdar, Aslamul Huq and Ilyas Mollah -- at the party’s Dhanmondi office on Thursday. He met with four MPs from constituencies around the capital city on Tuesday. They discussed prospective candidates and possible aspirants for the coming general election.
Meanwhile, the party is carrying out surveys and studies to determine nominations for the polls. Party MPs are now hurrying to their respective areas in fear of being left out of the fray.
An MP of Mymensingh, on condition of anonymity, has said, with no opposition to contend with, certain ruling party leaders and activists go out of control and the MP gets the blame. This is a matter of concern but there is still time to tackle the situation.
An MP of Chittagong voiced similar concerns, saying that the surveys did not always reflect the actual picture.
Obaidul Quader on Sunday said that that the criteria for nomination will be the candidate’s involvement with the people, ability to work with others in the party and overall popularity. And those who have failed to bring about development will be dropped.