AL allies differ over split bill
Lawmakers of the Jatiya Party, Workers Party and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal -- components of the Awami League-led ruling alliance -- will today protest the passage of a bill to split Dhaka City Corporation into two.
To make their point, they may either skip the House proceedings during the passage of the bill or may register their objection in person, said several lawmakers from the parties.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, they said they were discussing the means of staging the protest.
The move means that despite the absence of the BNP-led opposition lawmakers, the bill is certain to face opposition in parliament.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary standing committee on the LGRD ministry yesterday placed a report recommending some changes to the bill.
Earlier on Wednesday, the government placed the bill in parliament, seeking to amend the Local Government (City Corporation) Act 2009 to split DCC into two, ignoring public outcry over the move. The lone independent lawmaker Fazlul Azim strongly opposed placing the bill in the JS.
Hasanul Haque Inu, president of the JSD, yesterday said, “We will strongly oppose splitting Dhaka city. We will vote against passage of the bill.”
His party lawmakers would rather propose empowering DCC legally and financially, he added.
The JSD leaders yesterday met at Inu's office in the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban and discussed how to protest the bill.
“The government should have transformed DCC into a self-reliant metropolitan government to improve civic facilities. Instead, it has moved to split it. It will not bring about anything positive,” JSD lawmaker Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal told The Daily Star after the meeting.
He said the JSD lawmakers would submit notices opposing the bill this morning.
Jatiya Party lawmakers Hafizuddin Ahmed and Mujib-ul-Haque said they too would oppose the bill.
“If splitting a city corporation can ensure improved civic services, then why does the government not divide the country into seven provinces as proposed by our leader HM Ershad?” Hafizuddin asked.
JP lawmaker HM Golam Reza Habib, however, said the party high command had asked them neither to favour nor oppose the bill openly.
Addressing a party meeting in the capital on Saturday, JP Chairman Ershad said there was no way the split could ensure improved civic facilities.
Workers Party MP Fazle Hossain Badsha said his party did not support the government's move to cleave DCC into two as that would not do city dwellers any good.
Despite being opposed in principle to the move to split DCC, some ruling AL lawmakers will be present during the passage of the bill without taking advantage of the latest constitutional amendment that allows them to remain absent, thus going against the party whips. The amendment, however, does not allow them to vote against the party line.
Before the amendment, a lawmaker would risk losing membership of the JS for not toeing the party line or for absence from the House proceedings through ignoring the directives of the whips.
“Please don't ask me to comment on it. I can talk about other things if you want,” an AL lawmaker said when queried about his take on the DCC bill.
Speaking in return for anonymity, he said he did not want to add fuel to the flames by making any comments on the DCC split.
Golam Maula Rony, another AL lawmaker, said, “We will follow the prime minister's directives to the letter. Since the opposition has already waged a movement against the government, we don't have any alternative but to stay united.”
Asked if the party had formally asked all legislators to attend the House proceedings today, Whip Abdul Wahab said, “We believe our MPs will not take advantage of the new amendment, and they will be present in the House as they have been on other days.”
BNP lawmaker Abul Khair Bhuiyan, a member of the parliamentary standing committee on the LGRD ministry, said he could not attend the meeting on Sunday when the bill was scrutinised, as he was not in the capital.
“However, at a meeting of the committee a few months ago, I strongly protested dividing the city corporation,” Khair told The Daily Star.