Remarks on Bangabandhu, Martyrs: Zahangir shown the door
Gazipur City Corporation Mayor Mohammad Zahangir Alam, also the general secretary of Gazipur city Awami League, has been expelled from the party for his controversial comments on Bangabandhu and Liberation War martyrs.
Awami League Central Working Committee (ALCWC), the highest decision-making body of the party, in its meeting made the decision last night, with AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader briefed reporters after the meeting at the Gono Bhaban.
He said legal action might be taken against the Gazipur mayor. "We will officially communicate the party's decision on Zahangir Alam to the LGRD minister."
Quader also said the party made the decisions after verifying Zahangir's video footage that went viral on social media.
Meeting sources said the party chief expressed annoyance at the violence centring on the second phase of union parishad polls and party dissidents. She asked senior party leaders to prepare a list of rebel candidates and their patronisers.
The issues came up at the meeting when organisational secretaries presented their reports highlighting party infighting over the UP polls.
The PM warned that tough actions would be taken against the patrons of rebel candidates.
"Organisational actions will be taken against the backers of rebel candidates. It does not matter who they are, be they MPs or leaders, they will not get party nominations in future and will not able to do politics with Awami League," an AL central committee member, who was present at the meeting, quoted Hasina as saying.
The AL chief also said she will run the party dropping the rebels and their patrons.
Around 40 people were killed in violence across the country over the November 11 UP polls (second phase). The ruling party UP chairman candidates had to contest against party dissidents in almost all unions.
Ignoring strong warnings from the AL high-ups, 1,069 leaders and activists of the ruling party are taking part in the November 28 UP polls (third phase) as independents.
The number of such candidates was 690 in the second phase. The AL recommended expulsion of all party men who would work in favour of party dissidents.
Yesterday, at least 10 party leaders spoke at the ALCWC meeting on the Zahangir issue and all of them demanded his punishment, said meeting sources.
They also demanded removal of Zahangir as mayor and legal action again him.
In response of their demand for removal of the mayor, Hasina said she would look into the matter, the sources added.
Addressing the October 22 meeting of the Awami League Nomination Board for Local Body Elections, Hasina expressed annoyance at Zahangir's controversial remarks.
The ruling party on October 3 issued a show cause notice to Zahangir asking him to explain within 15 days why action should not be taken against him. In reply, Zahangir offered apology and said he was sorry for his comments. But the AL top leadership was not satisfied.
Speaking at a programme in late September, Zahangir made some comments on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the number of Liberation War martyrs. Its video footage went viral on social media.
Incensed, AL leaders and activists and its associated organisations demonstrated and demanded punishment for the Gazipur mayor.
Zahangir, however, termed the allegations "a conspiracy against him" and blamed his political opponents for "spreading propaganda against him".
Meanwhile, leaders and activists of the mayor's rival group brought out processions in Gazipur city last night soon after the news of his expulsion from the AL spread. They celebrated the news by bursting crackers, reports our Gazipur correspondent.
Sweetmeats were also distributed among the leaders and activists.
NEW PRESIDIUM MEMBERS
Yesterday's ALCWC meeting promoted two central committee members -- Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya and Kamrul Islam -- and Rajshahi City Corporation Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, also the Rajshahi city AL president, to members of party presidium, the AL highest policy-making body.
Those three posts had been lying vacant following the death of former health minister Mohammad Nasim, former home minister Sahara Khatun, and former law minister Abdul Matin Khasru.
Earlier, Hasina in her introductory speech at the meeting cited various incidents, including the August 21 grenade attack, and said BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and her allies always tried to wipe out the name and sign of AL.
"I'm always the target of Khaleda Zia," she said, adding that the BNP chief had commented that Hasina would never be the opposition leader, let alone the prime minister, and then a bomb was planted in Kotalipara of Gopalganj, reports UNB.
Khaleda later said that AL would never be able to go to power in 100 years and then the gruesome August 21 grenade attack was carried out, the PM said. "We should not forget those remarks."
When AL came to power, it did not resort to repressive activities against them, Hasina said.
The PM said some people in the country do not consider thousands of offences committed by some particular people as crimes.
"They talk against corruption, but speak in favour of a person convicted on graft charges. They're vocal against terrorism and militancy, but don't utter a single word against those who are involved in terrorism and militancy as well as convicted in the 10-truck arms haul case."
Hasina said some of them now sit in meetings to find out how the AL could be ousted from power. "What's the fault of Awami League? Is developing the country Awami League's fault?"
About the recent communal attacks, the PM said some quarters tried to create instability in the country, but the government was able to control the situation by taking timely steps.
She questioned why would people vote for BNP when its leader is a convicted fugitive.
"Who will vote for them? Where is their party and their leader?... How can it participate in elections and why would people vote for them as a convicted fugitive is the leader of the party?" she said.