They carry words like “Awami”, “League”, “Bangabandhu” or “Muktijodhha” in their names, but they don’t have any charter, full-fledged committee or permanent office. They are also disowned by the ruling Awami League.
Still, these platforms, some of them sharing the name, are thriving and making fortune, cashing in on their links with some senior AL leaders.
Take the case of Bangladesh Awami Muktijoddha Prajanma League.
It was launched in 2007 to press for the release of AL chief Sheikh Hasina who was in jail at that time, according to the platform’s President Asaduzzaman Durjoy. He said their objective is to “carry forward the spirit of the Liberation War from one generation to another”.
Strangely, one would find at least six other organisations with similar names. Each of them claims to be the real one and each of them holds programmes, including discussions, seminars and roundtables, attended often by AL leaders.
None of them has any charter or permanent office.
Asked, Durjoy said, “All, except ours, are fake. They are using public sentiment to take benefits from the government.”
He admitted that the AL constitution does not recognise their existence, let alone regard them as associate bodies. “But almost all the central leaders of the Awami League attend our programmes,” he said.
Since the AL came to power in 2009, over 200 such name-only organisations have mushroomed in the capital. Behind these are some little-known ruling party men who are making a mint abusing the name of the Liberation War, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and his family members, said party insiders.
Every day, these leaders spend hours at different ministries, lobbying for transfer of government officials and handing work contracts to the people of their choice, the insiders said.
They also take hefty sums from businessmen for organising the observance of different special days associated with the party. They arrange discussions, seminars and roundtables to mark the days and the number of such programmes has increased in recent months.
Most of these platforms in their official documents mention the AL headquarters at 23 Bangabandhu Avenue as their official address, but none of the offices could be found there.
Although Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned of taking action against such platforms, they are still active.
According to the AL charter, the party has seven front organisations -- Jubo League, Mahila Awami League, Krishak League, Swechchhasebak League, Jubo Mahila League, Awami Ainjibee Parishad and Bangladesh Tanti League.
It also mentions Bangladesh Chhatra League and Jatiya Sramik League as the party’s associate bodies. These two have their offices at the AL headquarters.
Talking to The Daily Star, Jatiya Muktijoddha Council leaders said if anyone wants to float any organisation linking it with the Liberation War, the person must take permission from the council. “But most of them did not ask for permission.”
The organisations “make the best use of their relations with ministers” to have various work awarded to their people, they said.
Asked, MA Karim, a former Krishak League leader who was seen attending a number of programmes organised by the lesser-known organisations, said, “I went there as I was invited. But lately, the number of such programmes has come down as there is almost no opposition party or their activities in the country.”
Senior AL leaders like Mohammed Nasim, Hasan Mahmud, Mozammel Haque and Qamrul Islam were also seen in such programmes.
Believe it or not, one of the platforms is called “Bangladesh Awami FB League”.
The online group is mainly a Facebook page opened in 2017. The page, which contains photos of different events organised by the party, claims one Abul Kashem is its convenor.
“I regularly speak to party high-ups via Facebook. We work on the ideology of Bangabandhu,” Abul Kashem told The Daily Star.
Asked, he claimed that a process to set up their office at the AL headquarters was underway.
Contacted, AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said some 200-250 name-only organisations engaged in many misdeeds in the past, abusing the name of the party.
“We wrote to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police and the home ministry, requesting them to take action against them. Police acted and the activities of the organisations came to a halt,” he told these correspondents yesterday.
However, they have again become active recently, he said, adding, “We will again take action against them.”
The AL insiders said the platforms include Bangladesh Awami Prajanma League, Bangabandhu Prajanma League, Olama League, Matshajibi League, Awami Samabay League, Shishu-Kishore League, Bangabandhu Sainik League, Bangabandhu Lekhak League, Bangabandhu Awami Paribar League, Bangabandhu Bastuhara League, Bangladesh Awami Cyber League, Awami Muktijoddha League, Awami Trinamul League, Awami Prachar League, Awami Chhinamul Hawkers’ League, Amra Muktijoddhar Santan, Muktijoddha League, Muktijoddha Tarun League, Muktijoddha Janata League, Bangabandhu Shishu Kishore Mela, Bangamata Parishad, Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnessa Mujib Parishad, Jananetri Parishad, Naukar Samarthak Goshthi, Naukar Natun Prajanma, Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote, Bangabandhu Shishu Kishore Mela, Sheikh Russel Shishu Kishore Parishad, Bangabandhu Adarsha Mullayan O Gabeshana Sangsad, Bangabandhu Smritee Sangrakyan Parishad, Bangabandhu Ain Parisad, Bangabandhu Shilpi Gosthi, Bangabandhu Jatiya Lekhak Parishad, and Russel Memorial Academy.