The upcoming BGMEA election took a dramatic turn after a new platform emerged yesterday to contest in the poll with a view to ensuring that leaders of the trade body are not selected on the whims of an influential quarter.
Named the Swadhinata Parishad, the platform unveiled its nine members at a press briefing held at the La Vinci hotel in Dhaka yesterday.
The development can be termed an inflection point for the BGMEA election 2017-18 as until yesterday the garment sector's apex trade body was all set to get a fresh batch of leaders through favouritism -- and not by ballot.
Shahidul Islam, managing director of Rupa Group and a former vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), was widely touted to be formally announced on March 7 as the new president for the next two years.
The convener of Swadhinata Parishad is Md Jahangir Alam, managing director of Design and Source.
The other members are: Md Aminul Islam of Venix Bangladesh; Shahidur Rahman of Nova Apparels; Golam Mowla Chowdhury of Parents Sweater; Omar Faruk of Alliance Apparels; Ayesha Akhtar of Way Mart Apparels; Mahmud Hossain of DK Global Fashion; Ansarul Alam Lincon of Azra Enterprise; and Humayun Rashid Jony of Olira Fashion.
In a statement, the platform said the BGMEA has become an ineffective organisation as the leadership of the association has not been decided by ballot for a long time.
“As a result, general members are being deprived of proper services and are facing harassment and negligence in some cases,” it said.
So, Swadhinata Parishad will participate in the election in order to choose leaders through direct votes of the members, Alam told The Daily Star.
Under the existing state of affairs, accountability is seriously lacking as leaders are not giving out any election manifesto and seeking votes from the BGMEA members.
Usually, the general members of the BGMEA vote to elect the leaders for a two-year tenure.
But, in 2015, no election took place, after the two panels -- Sammilito Parishad and Forum -- had announced their nominees. But later, the Forum nominees pulled out, leaving the Sammilito Parishad's presidential candidate victorious by default.
Since the Sammilito Parishad prevailed last time, it is now Forum's turn to preside over the trade body.
“There is no possibility of holding the formal election as we have already reached consensus to select the next president,” said Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez, leader of the Forum panel, recently.
The election is scheduled to be held on March 7. The voters are supposed to elect 35 directors, from whom one president and seven vice-presidents would be chosen.