The frontrunners for AL's presidential nomination

Photo: Collected

The talk of the town now revolves around who will get the nomination of the ruling Awami League to become the 22nd president of Bangladesh.

Party leaders said while many names have been discussed in the media and also social media, AL President Sheikh Hasina has not discussed the issue in the party forum till date.

A number of ruling party lawmakers said the issue of nomination of a president is not discussed in detail in the party forum or parliamentary party meeting, but party chief herself or a lawmaker on her behalf proposes a name and other members second the proposed name.

Three names have been most discussed for the post -- Mashiur Rahman, an advisory council member of the party, Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader.

Hailing from Khulna, Mashiur was a former bureaucrat and was assistant private secretary to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from 1972 to 1975.

Shirin, an MP from Rangpur-6, became the youngest Speaker of the House and has been serving since April 2013. She started her career as a lawyer of the Supreme Court and also served as the state minister of the women and children's affairs ministry.

Obaidul Quader, who was elected AL general secretary for the third consecutive time, is the road, transport and bridges minister and also a lawmaker from Noakhali-5.

However, Quader himself recently said he was not qualified to hold the office of the president.

The ruling party's nominee will be the next president of the country as no other political party which has representation in the parliament is going to propose any name for the presidential election, and the ruling party has a brute majority in the parliament.

Out of 350 parliamentary seats, the AL currently has 302, while main opposition Jatiya Party has 26. The Workers Party has four seats; Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh and Gono Forum have two each; Bangladesh Tarikat Federation and Jatiya Party (Manju) have a single seat each; and three remaining seats are occupied by independents.

Though the post of the president is mostly ceremonial -- they are to act as per the advice of the prime minister, except when appointing the premier and the chief justice -- it takes on some significance during polls-time given his say in issuing directives to help the Election Commission function effectively.

According to section 5 (2) of the Representation of the People's Order, 1972, all executive authorities of the government shall assist the EC in the performance of its functions, and for this purpose, the president may, after consultation with the commission, issue such directions as they may deem necessary.

The tenure of Hamid, the longest serving president of the country, will expire on April 23, and according to the constitution, there is no scope for his re-election.

Article 50 (2) of the constitution reads that no person shall hold office as president for more than two terms, whether or not the terms are consecutive.

Hamid was appointed acting president of Bangladesh on March 14, 2013, while then president Zillur Rahman was in hospital in Singapore. Zillur died six days later.

Hamid was then elected unopposed as president on April 22, 2013, and was sworn into office two days later. On February 7, 2018, he was re-elected unopposed for a second term.