AL in a spot of bother
While the ruling Awami League is grappling with divisions and disputes over the union parishad polls, controversial activities of some leaders have severely embarrassed the party as well as the government.
Bloody clashes between supporters of AL candidates and party rebels in the polls have already become a headache for the top party leadership as such conflicts continued to take place in the staggered elections despite repeated warnings and punitive actions.
The intra-party feuds, especially among the supporters of lawmakers and district-thana level leaders, are considered by the AL high-ups as serious organisational problems. Those incidents also manifested a lack of chain of command in the party.
On top of it, unruly and violent activities of some Chhatra League leaders and activists also remain a cause for concern for the AL high-command. At least three educational institutions had to be shut down following incidents involving BCL, a pro-Awami League student body.
To aggravate the situation, some leaders of AL, which is not facing any major opposition in parliament or on the streets, have got embroiled in controversies, causing further embarrassment to the party.
Over the last couple of months, these leaders made different types of comments. Some of them are accused of insulting religion, while others are accused of making derogatory comments about Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and women.
The central AL leaders are annoyed by such offensive remarks and activities but they said the party has sent a strong message to all tiers of the organisation about the wrongdoers irrespective of their positions in the party or the government.
Disgraced Murad Hassan, who resigned as state minister yesterday, is the latest one. He has been the eye of a social media storm for his untoward remarks on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's granddaughter and former female Chhatra League leaders.
Amid the furore, a leaked audio clip, a voice purportedly belonging to Murad, began to make the rounds on Facebook, making the demand for his resignation even louder.
"Both the government and Awami League felt embarrassed by his [Murad's] indecent remarks," Information Minister Hasan Mahmud told reporters yesterday.
Murad stepped down from his cabinet post on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's order. The junior minister lost his party post in Jamalpur district unit as well.
Last month, two mayors who were the top AL leaders at the district levels, fell from grace after their controversial comments on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
On November 19, Gazipur City Corporation mayor Mohammad Zahangir Alam was expelled from the party over his controversial remarks on Bangabandhu and Liberation War martyrs.
Zahangir, also the general secretary of Gazipur city AL, was later suspended from the post of GCC mayor. Several cases have also been filed against him.
Five days later, Abbas Ali, mayor of Katakhali municipality in Rajshahi's Paba upazila, lost his party post for his controversial remarks about a mural of Bangabandhu.
Like Murad and Zahangir, his remarks also went viral on social media.
Paba upazila AL revoked Abbas' post of convener in the municipality unit while the Rajshahi district AL also wrote to the party's central committee for his expulsion from the primary membership of the party.
Abbas is now behind bars.
Terming such incidents "unfortunate", AL Presidium Member Abdur Razzaque said, "We should have been more careful before giving them such responsibilities."
He said AL is a major political parity and different types of people are involved in it. Some of them might deviate from discipline and morality in the course of time, he added.
"However, the important matter is that the party is taking action against them. The party is not overlooking any of such matters and this is a warning to all," he told The Daily Star yesterday.
Chittagong Medical College was closed for an indefinite period on October 30 following a clash between two factions of the BCL's college unit.
On December 3, Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (Kuet) was closed till December 13 following the death of a teacher. Prof Md Selim Hossain, also the provost of Lalan Shah Hall, died on November 30, hours after several Chhatra League activists allegedly confined him to his office and mentally tortured him.
On December 5, dormitories of Government Ananda Mohan College in Mymensingh were declared closed for an indefinite period following BCL infighting.