In violation of the electoral code, Awami League bigwigs, including three state ministers, have apparently decided to support the ruling party-backed mayoral candidate AHM Khairuzzaman Liton and ensure his victory in the upcoming Rajshahi City Corporation election.
The decision was taken during a four-hour closed-door meeting at the training centre of Rajshahi Sugar Mills Ltd, just outside the territory of the city corporation, on Friday.
Liton himself attended the meeting for a few minutes, the meeting sources said. They also said the top AL leaders observed that the election would have an impact on the upcoming general elections, as the opposition took it as a national issue.
“Liton is our party leader. So, it's natural that we will back him and do everything lawful to ensure his victory,” said district AL President Meraj Uddin Mollah MP.
As per the electoral code, state ministers or persons enjoying government facilities are not allowed to join the election campaign.
State Minister for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku, State Minister for Youth and Sports Ahad Ali Sarker, and State Minister for Industries Omor Faruk Chowdhury attended the meeting, among others, according to the meeting sources.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, AL Joint Secretary General Mahbubul Alam Hanif said they discussed the RCC election as part of their talks on the party leaders' responsibilities in the national election. “It was Awami League's Rajshahi divisional meeting. So, we held the meeting outside the city territory,” he explained.
Talking to The Daily Star, Omor Faruk said directives were given to the party leaders for working together to face off the opposition.
Meanwhile, Liton's rival and BNP-backed mayoral aspirant Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul lodged a complaint with the returning officer, alleging that the three state ministers and 16 lawmakers held the meeting for "influencing the election". He said such conducts of ministers would also influence the government officials involved in the election to favour the AL-backed candidate.