Tarique made powerful senior vice-chairman
The BNP national council yesterday elected Tarique Rahman senior vice-chairman in a move apparently designed to smooth his path to the party helm.
It also empowered re-elected Chairperson Khaleda Zia to pick the other office-bearers and members for the national executive and standing committees, ignoring the party charter that stipulates election to the posts.
Election of Tarique, Khaleda's elder son, came soon after the council approved a proposal for introducing a senior vice-chairman's post in the executive committee.
The proposal, now part of the BNP constitution, says the senior vice-chairman will lead the party in the absence of the chairperson. He will also be a member of the standing committee.
Placed by Joint Secretary General Goyeshwar Chandra Roy, the proposal was passed amid huge clapping from the councillors, Faridpur BNP President Shahzada Miah told reporters at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
He was coming out of the closed-door session in the evening.
Earlier, seven councillors including lawmakers Fazlul Haque Milon and Abul Khair Bhuiyan in their speech demanded that Tarique be given an important position.
It is a must to keep the organisation united, they said.
The council also approved raising the number of standing committee members to 19 from 15.
Besides, it decided to work into its constitution the post of senior joint-secretary general.
Though Tarique had held the position since 2002 and left it before going abroad for treatment last year, it could not be included in the charter as there was no council in the last 16 years.
In the past, the BNP constitution would allow the national council to elect only the party chief.
In August last year, it had a new provision requiring that the council constitute the executive and standing committees through election.
The provision was included to make the charter conform to the Representation of the People Order, which was a prerequisite for registration with the Election Commission.
Earlier on July 24, ruling Awami League's national council elected only the party president and general secretary, and authorised the two to nominate the other members for the central working committee and presidium.
In exercise of the power given by the councillors, AL President Sheikh Hasina announced the full committees a few days after the council.
Now Khaleda, who was re-elected chairperson unopposed on December 4, will follow suit.
She will choose over 251 office-bearers and members for the executive committee and 19 members for the standing committee.
During the closed-door session, former BNP lawmaker Ilyas Ali proposed that formation of the committees should be left to the chairperson's discretion, meeting sources said.
The councillors backed the proposal, ending speculations over the process of picking new leadership.
At the council, BNP brought a number of amendments to its constitution and ratified the provisional changes made to take part in the ninth parliamentary election.
Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain placed a report. In her concluding note, Khaleda thanked everyone for making the council a success.
KHALEDA TO JOURNALISTS
Talking to reporters after the closed-door session, Khaleda said she was happy that the council was successful.
"The councillors have given me the responsibility to announce new committees and I will do that soon," she added.
Earlier at the concluding session, the former prime minister said the council was a turnaround for BNP and that it would make the organisation even stronger.
"Those who are competent and have acceptability among people will be chosen to run the party," she said.
Khaleda, also leader of the opposition, urged the grassroots to unite and work for the party.
BNP's Joint Secretary General Nazrul Islam Khan briefed the reporters after the council ended at 10:15pm.
He said as per the council's decision, the chairperson would announce the standing and executive committees that would be considered elected by the council.
The amendments approved at the council, he continued, provide for the senior vice-chairman and secretary general to be ex-officio members of the standing committee.
Replying to a query, Nazrul said a few councillors had raised the issue of factional dispute over reforms after 1/11, but the chairperson asked them to leave it for the party men to judge.