• Tuesday, October 21, 2014

AL turns a blind eye to its charter

Intra-party democracy missing as party forums ignore rules on holding meetings

Partha Pratim Bhattacharjee

The Awami League has often undermined intra-party democracy by flouting its charter since assuming office in 2009.
The party's constitution has provisions about committees and their role in ensuring internal democratic practices, but most of them have become ineffective over the last five to six years.
The AL presidium, the party's highest policy-making body, last had its meeting on April 11 last year and the party's think-tank advisory council on August 17 the same year.
The national committee has not sat since October 13, 2012, though its meeting is mandatory every six months as per section 17 of the party charter. In violation of section 25, the general secretary has not held any monthly meeting with departmental secretaries after the January 5 national elections.  
The party is supposed to hold meetings of all its 19 sub-committees every three months but most of those are to be formed, even though the 19th triennial council was held on December 29, 2012.
Contacted, AL Presidium Member Mohammad Nasim admitted that meetings of different forums had become irregular as, he claimed, leaders were busy running the government.
A senior leader of the AL central committee said the party was not following its charter in many fields and because of this, the organisation had lapsed into chaos.

Intra-party democracy is now only in paper, he added.
No other senior leader agreed to comment about the violation of party charter.
Insiders say Prime Minister and AL President Sheikh Hasina alone made some decisions ignoring the party constitution, just to make some leaders happy. It has encouraged others to find shortcuts to impress Hasina.
The party charter says all the units have to be formed through elections. But the leadership imposed committees on Chittagong, Sylhet and Rangpur units. The Dhaka city unit is yet to get any committee even after its council on December 27, 2012.
Also according to the AL constitution, if any party man contests national elections against party-nominated persons, he/she will be expelled from the party. But in the January 5 polls, 14 party dissidents out of around 40 achieved victory. Only two of them faced expulsion.
In another instance, the AL has two office secretaries, instead of one.
Abdul Mannan Khan was elected to the post for three years at the 19th triennial council. Since then, he has placed all the condolence motions at recent meetings of the AL central working committee, the highest decision-making body of the party.
Surprisingly, the party's official website says Abdus Sobhan Golap is the office secretary and official statements to the media usually bear his signature.
Both take part in every working committee meeting.
Asked, Mannan said, "I am doing my job as office secretary on the instructions of my party president."
Golap did not receive phone calls from this correspondent.
The AL has around 1,000 assistant secretaries while its constitution allows 95. Insiders said the party before the January 5 election decided to appoint more assistant secretaries to counter the opposition's movement and to give a boost to grassroots party activists.  
Contacted, AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif told The Daily Star that he had no idea how many assistant secretaries were appointed. He did not answer questions about the two office secretaries or the charter violation.

Published: 12:01 am Monday, June 23, 2014

Last modified: 10:09 pm Monday, June 23, 2014

TAGS: Awami League January 5 national elections. general secretary Presidium Member Mohammad Nasim Rangpur units.

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