BCL leaders under fire over lavish lifestyle

Asifur Rahman | Update:

BCL leaders

The extravagant lifestyle of the president and the general secretary of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), and the lack of transparency in disbursing funds, have not gone down well with the BCL leaders and activists.

They are also unhappy about the anomalies regarding control of tenders and the tenure of the central committee.

In Wednesday’s general meeting of the BCL, its joint general secretary Sayem Khan demanded an explanation regarding the allegations and a heated debate ensued.

To make things worse for the ruling party’s student wing, two factions of its Sylhet MC College unit swooped down on each other on Thursday, forcing the authorities to close the institute sine die.

BCL president Saifur Rahman told Prothom Alo that Sayem Khan has apologised to him for his remarks, but the latter has denied this. 

“I was asked to apologise, but what I said was right. I just demanded that the funds be utilised in a systematic way. Why will only the president and the GS have all the fun? They have to look after the other leaders as well,” Sayem said.

BCL president Saifur and general secretary SM Zakir Hossain came under fire from a number of senior leaders of the wing at the general meeting. They alleged the duo have an extravagant lifestyle and misappropriate BCL funds.

When asked, Saifur said, “It does not really matter if one or two people say things like that.”

BCL leaders present at the meeting told Prothom Alo that Saifur had said they receive the money from the prime minister. Zakir said they get Tk 230,000 from the PM.

Sayem then retorted that he should get a share of that money as well.

Besides Sayem, vice-president Mehedi Hasan, Aditya Nandi and Maksud Rana also brought a number of allegations against the two top leaders.

On 13 January, Saifur came under severe criticism for flying to a convention in Ishwardi, Pabna by helicopter.

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader also slammed the BCL president for this.

The present BCL committee will expire on 26 July. The questioned was raised at the BCL general meeting as to whether there will be a general meeting and whether the tenure will be extended.

Saifur told Prothom Alo, “The convention will be held the day the honourable PM wants.”

Following a meeting of the AL’s presidium members on Thursday, Obaidul said, “The country has been hit by floods. It won’t be that long before the convention is held.”

A number of BCL leaders also asked the meeting why steps would not be taken against leaders for their unethical actions.

Clash, infighting across the country

The year did not start well for BCL as there were infighting at Sylhet University of Science and Technology (SUST) and Comilla Medical College units.

The ruling party’s student wing made newspaper headlines in the next six months for their involvement in 37 incidents, including clash over controlling tenders, mugging, beating cops, abusing teachers, infighting and murders.

Of those, 12 were related to establishing supremacy and financial affairs. Infighting killed three in Chittagong, Comilla and Chuadanga in the last six months.

In a meeting with BCL men on 11 June, AL general secretary Obaidul Quader said, “You must not be part of any misdeeds for the want of money. Come to me if you need money. I shall talk to the party president [Sheikh Hasina].”

On 21 January, BCL men fought among themselves to take control of the extorted money from business outlets around Dhaka College. The central committee expelled 19 including Nur Alam Bhuiyan, convener of then Dhaka College BCL committee. Nur Alam, however, went to visit Laxmipur with central committee president in March.

Dhaka (South) unit BCL general secretary Sabbir Hossain and Wari Thana unit general secretary Ashiqur Rahman were expelled after they were seen firing gunshots in newspapers photos during eviction of hawkers from footpaths at Gulistan on 9 February.

Three leaders of Begum Rokeya University unit BCL were excluded for confining varsity’s vice chancellor AKM Nur-Un-Nabi for 14 hours on 3 May for not giving jobs to the party activists.

On 11 February, infighting over taking control of drug peddling killed BCL activist Yasin Arafat at Reajuddin Bazar in Chittagong. Eight were injured as the supporters of Chittagong University unit BCL president and general secretaries locked in a clash on 4 May. Besides, they were reported to be involved with many other crimes.

A clash with cops left 25 BCL men injured after they had opted for vandalism to stop the construction work of a swimming pool at Chittagong Outer Stadium on 18 April.

Besides, BCL leaders were reported to have been involved with several crimes at Rajshahi University,  Keraniganj of Dhaka and Dhaka University dormitories.

Regarding these incidents, the BCL president told Prothom Alo, “We have taken organisational actions against those found involved with such misdeeds. We haven’t supported them.”


*The article originally published in Prothom Alo print edition has been rewritten in English by Quamrul Hassan and Shameem Reza

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