Mammoth task awaits AL
Picking single candidates for the union parishad elections would be a daunting task for the ruling Awami League as the grassroots leaders are already all fired up to woo the party top brass for endorsing their candidacies.
The issuing of party tickets for the polls, likely to be held from March, is however yet to begin.
Top AL leaders apprehend that the party might face severe setbacks as they might not be able to contain the rebel candidates, according to party sources.
They even fear rifts among the grassroots in many places, which would weaken the party's prospects in the elections to the lowest tier of the local government.
The nomination aspirants have already begun campaigns, visiting door to door, pasting posters and maintaining relations with district and upazila level leaders in order to win their blessings.
The AL, meanwhile, has finalised the selection process for nominating the chairman candidates.
The candidates would first be selected by a committee comprising presidents and general secretaries of the AL units of the districts, upazilas and union parishads concerned. The lists will then be sent to the party high command that will make the final selections.
Nurul Huda Mukut, general secretary of Sunamganj district AL, said they had already begun the selection process, as directed by the party's central command.
"Upazila and union committees will send the names of aspirants to the district unit and then we will finalise the list and send them to the [AL] central [committee]."
Lawmaker SM Jaglul Hayder, president of Shyamnagar upazila AL unit in Satkhira, said, "We haven't got any such directive yet. We are now observing the activities of grassroots leaders willing to contest for the chairman posts."
He also said aspirants had already started vigorous campaigns. "Those who have better chances of winning and more popularity than the others will be chosen for party nomination."
Corroborating him, Mukut of Sunamganj AL said, "We are tired of phone calls from aspirants."
In Natore, three people are in the race to secure party nomination for the chairman post of Chhatni union parishad.
Md Dulal Sarker, who has been president of the union chapter AL since 2003, thinks he should win the nomination.
"I am the obvious choice if the party considers my popularity among the people and my dedication to the organisation. The other nomination seekers are either too detached from the voters or mired in controversies," he told this paper yesterday.
Tofazzal Hossain, who was the UP chairman from 2003 to 2011, however thinks otherwise.
"My popularity is far higher than any other Awami League leader here. People, irrespective of their political affiliations, will vote for me if I get the party ticket," claimed the vice-president of the Sadar upazila AL.
Nazrul Islam Don is the other aspirant there. Despite being a new face in the local political landscape, he thinks his biggest advantage is the legacy of his father, Hanif Ali Sheikh who was the general secretary of the district AL until his death in 2011.
In Osmanpur union parishad of Khoksa in Kushtia, two aspirants -- Anisur Rahman Bablu and Liton Mollah -- are trying to win the AL ticket.
Bablu, general secretary of the upazila chapter of pro-AL Krishak League, said, "I have been involved with the party for a long time and so I should get the nomination."
Liton Mollah on the other hand said, "I and my family have been serving the Awami League for a long time. So, the party should pick me."
AL Presidium Member Nooh Ul Alam Lenin thinks selecting lone candidates in 4,500 union parishads would be a colossal job. He, however, finds some benefits of holding the UP polls on party lines.
"This will make the people's representatives more responsible and the party grassroots will become more active and dynamic."
The Election Commission plans to hold the elections in five phases. For the first time, chairman aspirants will contest the elections with party symbols.
In the polls to 4,298 union parishads in 2011, AL-backed candidates secured 2,101 chairman posts while the BNP-endorsed ones got 1,618.