Row Over AL Sub-committees: Quader again faces ex-BCL men's wrath
Hours after denying that he was confined to an Awami League office by former Chhatra League men on Saturday, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader was besieged in front of the same office yesterday evening by the same people.
Around 250 to 300 former Chhatra League leaders surrounded Quader when he reached the AL president's Dhanmondi office in his car around 7:30pm yesterday. They chanted slogans and demanded cancellation of sub-committees of AL departments.
After being encircled for about 10 minutes, Quader got out of his car and talked to some former student leaders at the party office, according to witnesses.
After meeting Quader, former student leaders, including Hasanuzzaman Liton, Abu Abbas, Hasanuzzaman Tarique, Mahfuzur Rahman, and Shahajahan Shisir, said the AL sub-committees were formed with people from pro-BNP-Jamaat alliance, depriving dedicated Chhatra League leaders.
Quader sought three-month time from them for forming new sub-committees with former Chhatra League leaders, they claimed.
The road transport and bridge minister stayed at the office until 9:30pm last night. The agitating former Chhatra League leaders left soon after.
Earlier yesterday, Quader at his Bangladesh Secretariat office claimed that he was not confined to the party office on Saturday evening, rather he had locked his room to pray, contrary to media reports and what the police had said.
Over 100 former Chhatra League leaders kept him confined to AL president's Dhanmondi office for more than half an hour around 6:00pm on Saturday and forced him to declare that the AL put on hold its recently “announced” sub-committees, according to media reports.
Police officials said there was tension at the office on Saturday.
Quader yesterday claimed that it was not a protest at all, rather a rally of jubilation organised by former Chhatra League leaders as he assured them of including dedicated former Chhatra League leaders to the sub-committees.
“After offering prayers, I talked to the former Chhatra League leaders. But the media reported that I was confined. It is not true and I was hurt seeing some media reports,” he added.
“There were no reporters at the office at that time. They might have published the report hearing rumours from people,” he said.
“I am not a leader who sits in a meeting locking the door. I was behind bars for four years. I have been serving as minister for 11 years. I have got many things in my life, and now it is my turn to give. Party activists have every right to know what is going on within the party,” he said.
However, according to witnesses of Saturday evening's incident, Quader was discussing district committees with senior leaders on the first floor of the office.
Some former Chhatra League leaders, who had been deprived of posts in the sub-committees, started demonstrating in front of the room. At one stage, they tried to force their way into the room but it was locked from the inside. The demonstrators then chanted slogans demanding cancellation of the sub-committees.
Later, central AL leaders brought the situation under control, the witnesses said.
However, an official of Dhanmondi Police Station said the situation was tense at the AL president's Dhanmondi office but police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.
Last week, a letter on an AL letterhead and signed by AL Office Secretary Abdus Sobhan Golap was revealed in the social media. It had the names of the members of the 19 sub-committees of AL.
About the “announced” sub-committees, Quader yesterday said it was not final. “I didn't sign the committees off. They were draft committees that were under scrutiny but somehow were leaked.”
According to the AL constitution, the party is to form 19 sub-committees to strengthen and coordinate activities of secretary-level leaders.
Each of the sub-committees is to have a chairman, a secretary, expert members, associate presidents, secretaries, members, and no more than five assistant secretaries.
The AL held its 20th National Council in October 2016 but the party was yet to officially announce the sub-committees.
The sub-committees made by the last central committee drew criticisms as a large number of people were included in deviation of its charter, prompting party leaders to promise that they would be more cautious in forming sub-committees the next time.
Yesterday's conflict at the AL president's Dhanmondi office exposed the internal feuds the ruling party is dealing with. It happened at a time when the AL had formed 15 teams, comprising senior leaders, to tour the country and quell internal disputes and prepare AL for the national elections.
The team will start touring on January 26, according to an AL press release issued yesterday.