Separating party from the govt?
Seven ministers do not feature in the partially announced Awami League Central Working Committee, and party insiders view it as an effort to separate the party from the government.
The seven are among the 12 ministers who were in the previous committee. The other five have retained their posts.
On the second and final day, the AL council yesterday elected 42 office-bearers in the 81-member central working committee, the party’s highest decision-making body.
Names of the other 11 office-bearers and 28 members would be announced later by Sheikh Hasina, as the councillors gave her the responsibility, said party insiders.
Hasina was re-elected the party president for the ninth consecutive time, while Obaidul Quader got a second straight term as the general secretary. Both of them were elected unopposed.
The AL was initially floated as the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League at the historic Rose Garden in Dhaka on June 23, 1949. Hasina, a four-time prime minister, has been at the party helm for the last 38 years.
Her re-election as the party chief was certain, but all eyes were on the GS post as several names were in discussion within the party.
Party sources had said the council may drop hints about future leadership of the party.
They said three names -- Sajeeb Wazed Joy, Saima Wazed Hossain and Radwan Mujib Siddiq -- have long been in discussion among the party’s rank and file, and their inclusion in the central working committee may indicate who might be at the party helm in the future. Joy and Saima are the children of Sheikh Hasina; Radwan is the son of Hasina’s sister Sheikh Rehana.
The AL chief, who on several occasions in the past, expressed her desire to go into retirement, however, did not give any hint about the future leadership yesterday.
The seven ministers of the Hasina-led 47-member cabinet, who were not named in the committee yet, are Housing and Public Works Minister SM Rezaul Karim, party’s former legal affairs secretary; Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, former finance secretary of the party; State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, Deputy Minister for Water Resources AKM Enamul Haque Shamim and Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury – all three former organising secretaries in the previous committee; State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, former religious affair secretary; and State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Fazilatun Nessa Indira, former women affairs secretary of the party.
However, they could still be included in the committee as its 39 posts were vacant, said party insiders.
Obaidul Quader is the road transport and bridges minister. Apart from him, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque was elected presidium member while Education Minister Dipu Moni and Information Minister Hasan Mahmud were elected joint general secretaries.
Of the 42 elected office-bearers, the highest number of leaders -- 19 -- were from Dhaka division, followed by Chattogram division, 9.
Two joint general secretaries from the previous committee -- Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman -- were included in the AL presidium, the party’s highest policy-making body.
Former shipping minister Shajahan Khan, who hogged the headlines for his controversial activities in the recent past, was also included in the committee. Previously, he did not hold any party posts.
In the 17-member party presidium, all but Nanak, Abdur Rahman and Shajahan Khan, were from the previous presidium.
Former office secretary of the party Abdus Sobhan Golap was elected publicity and publication affairs secretary while Biplob Barua, former deputy office secretary, as office secretary.
Earlier in the day, the council session started around 10:30am at the Institution of Engineers Bangladesh auditorium in the capital with participation of 7,337 councillors from across the country.
In her address at the beginning of the programme, Hasina asked AL leaders and activists to strengthen the party further for fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people.
“The Awami League should be organised in a way so that it can uphold people’s confidence and trust,” she said, urging the AL men to be more responsible in building the nation.
When her speech was over, Hasina along with all the other office-bearers from the previous committee resigned and requested the Yusuf Hossain Humayun-led three-member Election Commission to pick the new leaders.
AL presidium member Abdul Matin Khasru proposed Hasina’s name as the party president, and it was supported by another presidium member, Pijush Kanti Bhattacharya.
Jahangir Kabir Nanak proposed Quader as the general secretary, which was supported by Abdur Rahman.
After being re-elected the party chief, Hasina thanked the councillors and sought their blessings to run the party.
Addressing the councillors, she said, “I have been leading the party for the last 38 years. So you should consider my age [in the future].”
Later, she announced the names of the 42 office-bearers after being urged by the councillors to do so.
She said the names of the other office-bearers would be announced later following consultation with the new leaders.
AFM Bahauddin Nasim, an organising secretary in the previous committee, was elected joint general secretary while two members of the central committee -- SM Kamal Hossain and Mirza Azam -- got the posts of organising secretary.
Mahbubul Alam Hanif was re-elected joint general secretary while three organising secretaries of the previous committee -- Ahmed Hossain, BM Mozammel Haque and Abu Sayeed Al Mahmud Swapan --were re-elected to the same post. Previous committee’s organising secretary Misbah Uddin Siraj was yet to find a post.
Shammi Ahmed, Delwar Hossain, Engineer Abdus Sabur, Mrinal Kanti Das, Harunur Rashid, Asim Kumar Ukil, Shamsunnahar Chapa, Dr Rokeya Sultana, Faridunnahar Laily and Sujit Roy Nandi retained their secretariat posts for international affairs, forest and environment, science and Technology, Liberation War affairs, youth and sports, cultural affairs, education and human resources, health and population affairs, agriculture and cooperatives, relief and social welfare respectively.
Previous committee’s Nazibullah Hiru and Meher Afroz Chumki were elected law affairs and women affairs secretaries respectively.
In their speech at yesterday’s council, representatives from seven divisions demanded punishment to those party leaders who patronise infiltrators. They said the infiltrators were creating divisions within the party and requested the party president to identify and expel them.
The council session brought some changes to the party charter.
For example, the number of members of the party’s think-tank -- advisory council -- was increased to 51 from 41, while posts of assistant secretary of the sub-committees were abolished. Instead of having assistant secretaries, the party would form committees under every secretarial department.
Besides, Bangladesh Awami Matsyajibi League, a pro-Awami League organisation working for the welfare of the fishermen, got the status of AL’s associate body.
Hasina also announced the names of the 41-member advisory council members who got re-elected. The AL chief would declare the 10 other names in the committee later.
Addressing a press conference at the party president’s Dhanmondi office later in the day, Quader vowed to make the AL more dynamic under Hasina’s leadership.
Asked about the full-fledged committee, he said, “Still some posts are vacant. We hope to start working with new enthusiasm a day or two after the full committee is announced.”
He hinted that some new faces might be included in the committee.
Replying to a query on the ministers who were not included in the partially-announced committee, Quader said the party’s president did not want to increase the burden on some ministers.
“There are some ministers in the committee and their responsibilities would change,” he added.