BCL run at the whim of Joy, Lekhak
Bangladesh Chhatra League has been running its organisational activities in an "undemocratic" manner for the most part of the last four years, much to the dismay of its leaders and activists.
Ever since they became the president and general secretary of the central committee in 2019, Al Nahean Khan Joy and Lekhak Bhattacharjee have been making organisational decisions at whim and in violation of the charter, insiders said.
Aggrieved BCL leaders allege the democratic practices within the organisation have been pushed into the back seat as the top leaders are running the student body arbitrarily.
The organisation was not run like this in its golden years leading up to the 1971 Liberation War.
Joy and Lekhak did not respond to repeated calls and text messages for comments.
As per the BCL charter, the incumbent central committee must make preparations for holding a council to elect the next president and general secretary before its two-year tenure ends. But the current committee made no such move in the last four years.
The duo also failed to form committees in at least 67 out of the 116 district units within the stipulated one-year time. In some districts, councils are pending for over 10 years.
Barishal district unit, for example, was formed in 2011 and its tenure expired a decade ago. The tenure of the Dhaka University unit, one of the most influential units of BCL, expired in 2019.
The two also did not hold a single bi-monthly meeting of the central committee. As a result, the central BCL leaders could not discuss any political matters and express their opinions or dissatisfactions over organisational issues.
"There are no democratic practices within the Chhatra League. The president and general secretary make decisions on all matters without seeking opinions of the executive council. Other leaders in the committee have no roles except for occupying the posts," Sohan Khan, a vice-president of central BCL, told The Daily Star.
Enraged by the top leaders' activities, a faction of central BCL leaders went to Awami League President Sheikh Hasina's Dhanmondi office on September 10 to submit a written complaint against Joy and Lekhak on various issues, including violation of the charter.
But the office secretary refused to accept it. They waited there for hours and left after a senior AL leader committed to sitting with them on the matter at a convenient time.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is organisational chief of BCL, picked Joy and Lekhak as acting president and acting general secretary on September 14, 2019. She made the decision after the president and general secretary of the previous committee -- Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon and Golam Rabbani -- lost their posts following allegations of bribery and other controversies.
Four months later, Hasina made them full-fledged president and general secretary.
Under the BCL charter, its president and general secretary are elected every two years through direct votes of the councillors coming from across the country.
'VIOLATION IS THE NORM'
According to the BCL constitution, the organisation must operate in the light of its charter.
Section 13 (Kha) of the BCL constitution limits the tenure of the central executive committee to two years, meaning the present committee has expired two years ago.
A fresh council must be held within two years for the election of the next committee. However, if required, the two-year tenure can be extended by up to three months upon approval from the central committee members.
"But the existing committee did not hold a fresh council nor officially extend its tenure," said a BCL vice-president, wishing anonymity.
Theoretically, the current BCL committee has no mandate to run the organisation.
The BCL vice-president said the previous six committees also occupied the posts for about four years.
The central committee is not supposed to have more than 301 members. But in reality it has 700 members.
"During the month of mourning [August], more than 500 people were included in the central committee without any scrutiny," reads the complaint prepared for submission to Sheikh Hasina.
Sources said Joy and Lekhak handpicked them and made them members of the organisation simply by sending them letters to this effect.
BCL leaders said the duo announced 13 committees of different units which include district, upazila, and university committees from July 6 to July 31. But it was done without holding any councils, which is a violation of its charter.
"Violating the constitution has become a norm for the top leadership. We are very frustrated to see that an organisation like Chhatra League is being run like this," said a central BCL leader.