MPs may come under fire | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 20, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:47 AM, May 20, 2017

MPs may come under fire

Furious grassroots leaders to tell PM today how lawmakers polluting AL by bringing Jamaat-BNP men in party fold

When the Awami League sits for a special extended meeting of the party at the Gono Bhaban today, party ministers and lawmakers may expect some rebuke from the grassroots leaders.  

Local leaders are preparing themselves to raise their voice against the ministers and MPs as the latter are getting “increasingly isolated” from voters for maintaining their own circle, “ignoring” the tested leaders and activists of the party.

They are also planning to point out the organisational weakness and the division created by the people infiltrating the party from BNP and Jamaat to save themselves from cases and police harassment.

At the meeting scheduled to start at 10:30am, grassroots leaders would get a chance to speak about the organisation in front of party chief Sheikh Hasina after a long time.

Among other things, the two-day long meeting aims at reducing internal disputes across the country. Hasina, also the prime minister, might also formally instruct the party men to prepare for the 2019 general election.

Presidents, general secretaries, information secretaries, office secretaries and their deputies, publicity and publication secretaries and their deputies of 77 organisational district units were invited to the meeting. All AL lawmakers have also been invited.

Ahead of the meeting, The Daily Star spoke with 10 district leaders.

They said the issue of infiltration would be one of the major talking points.

Most grassroots leaders are against such infiltration, they said, adding that many MPs were doing it to strengthen and enlarge their own circle.

After the AL took office in 2009, several thousand BNP-Jamaat men are believed to have joined the ruling party apparently to have their names off politically motivated cases and avoid police harassment.

Many of these BNP and Jamaat men stand accused in dozens of cases filed against them over the street violence during the BNP-led alliance's movement since 2013, and those who have no cases against them face harassment by law enforcement agencies just because of their political identities, sources in the AL said.

By joining the AL, many of these opposition men not only got respite from police harassment, they also got AL nomination in recent local government elections, frustrating the party grassroots, insiders said.

On various occasions, several partners in the AL-led 14-party alliance also expressed their reservation about the infiltration.

In many cases local MPs harbour BNP-Jamaat men accused in various cases.

Shahin Chaklader, general secretary of Jessore district AL, said if he got a chance to talk, he would talk the PM through the role party lawmakers play in all this and also in the local politics.

"Those who became MPs through the January 5 elections, have no relations with grassroots leaders and activists. They have become opponents of the party's tested leaders and activists by creating their own circle," he said.

Chaklader said the party lawmakers were helping BNP-Jamaat men to join the AL to strengthen their influence, which created division in the party.

"These infiltrated people will never stand for the Awami League during elections. The party men are also frustrated over the MPs' role and such a situation will make the next election challenging for the party. I want to raise these issues," he said.  

"If I get to talk, I will raise our party's organisational weakness and the MPs' role in the party," Said Syed Shamsul Alam Hiru, president of Gaibandha district AL.

He said most of the MPs in his district were isolated and they were working against the party's tested leaders and activists. "Because of them, local people and party men are frustrated with the Awami League. The MPs don't maintain relations with the organisation." 

Matiur Rahman, president of Sunamganj district AL, said he planned to talk about the division between the party and the government.

"Bypassing the party men, MPs are maintaining relations with ministers and administration and they have little ties with the party. I am going to talk about this," he said.

Joypurhat district AL General Secretary SM Solaiman Ali would like to talk about organisational activities and the infiltration by the BNP-Jamaat men, who he said were using AL's internal feud to their benefits.

At the meeting, Hasina would inaugurate the party's membership collection and renewal programme after seven years by renewing her own membership, said AL Deputy Office Secretary Biplab Barua.

The party last held such a programme in 2010.

Hasina has already warned that the lawmakers unpopular in their constituencies would not get party tickets in the next election and that she already made a list of who would get nomination.

At a meeting on May 7, she also asked the party MPs to work to narrow the gap between the grassroots leaders and activists and to build a strong relationship with the party men. She is expected to renew the call today.

The party will hand over its new declaration and constitution, which were amended in the party's 20th triennial council held on October 22-23 last year, to the grassroots leaders.

Contacted, AL Presidium Member Lt Col (retd) Muhammad Faruq Khan said Hasina would give instructions to grassroots leaders for preparation for the next polls as well as to reduce the gap between MPs and grassroots leaders. 

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