Chaos in AL over including new names in dialogue team
The Awami League (AL) has had disputes within the party in the last two days about inclusion of fresh names in its committee for dialogue with the Election Commission (EC) over electoral reforms.
At the meeting of the AL Central Working Committee on October 22, the party formed a 16-member committee headed by Presidium Member Tofail Ahmed although the EC had sought 10 representatives for the talks scheduled for November 4.
At the central committee meeting it was decided that the party would form a 15-member committee and urge the EC to increase the number of AL representatives for the dialogue. The meeting, however, did not decide on who will be on the committee.
Later, a party press release revealed names of 16 leaders instead of 15.
Since then a few party leaders expressed resentment as their names were not included in the committee and started mounting pressure on the party's Acting President Zillur Rahman.
Sources said Zillur was forced to nominate five low profile leaders--Advocate Shahara Khatun, Dr Hasan Mahmud, Abdul Mannan Khan, Prof Abu Sayeed and Raziuddin Ahmed Razu--for the committee.
Most committee members opposed the decision, saying if these five leaders have really been included in the committee, then half of the party's Central Working Committee members staying in Dhaka now are going to represent the AL at the EC dialogue.
An angered AL leader said, "As the party will hold a highly professional and technical discussion with the Election Commission, the committee should be small in size."
Sources also said some of the committee members will give their reaction at a meeting of the committee today. A few even told The Daily Star that they might not join the talks at the EC although they will work for preparing the party's statement to be placed before the commission.
"We wanted to keep the committee confined to the members of the party presidium and advisory council so that the committee has some dignity," said a committee member.
"But with the expansion of the committee, everything will be funny...as if we are going for a football match with the Election Commission. There will be no fruitful discussion if 21 members go for dialogue with the commission," the AL leader told The Daily Star preferring not to be named.
A few AL leaders believe that the fresh names have been included to keep a balance between the pro-Sheikh Hasina and the dissident reformist blocks within the party.
The committee will sit today at the political office of detained AL President Sheikh Hasina at Dhanmondi at 11:00am to review the EC's draft of reform proposals and prepare a set of recommendations.
AL Acting General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam is the member secretary of the committee. The other members are Suranjit Sengupta, Motia Chowdhury, Abul Mal Abdul Muhith, Advocate Rahmat Ali, Mukul Bose, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Abdul Mannan, Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Akhtaruzzaman, Sultan Mohammad Mansur Ahmed, Abdur Rahman, Mostafa Jalal Mohiuddin, Abdul Latif Siddiqui, and AKM Jahangir Hossain.