Debacle in city polls rattles AL | The Daily Star
12:45 AM, July 13, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:01 AM, July 13, 2013

Debacle in city polls rattles AL

Ministers, party leaders blame each other for defeat

Some ruling Awami League leaders and ministers are now blaming each other for the humiliating defeats of the AL-backed mayoral candidates in the recent polls to five city corporations.
Most of the AL rank and file who are not in the government think the party-backed contenders lost because of some controversial activities of the government. So, the government must shoulder the responsibility for the defeats.
Several ministers, on the other hand, say it is the party that should be blamed as it failed to engage leaders and workers in Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet and Barisal city polls on June 15 and the Gazipur polls on July 6. According to them, the government has nothing to do with these failures.
The debate has surfaced as party leaders and ministers tried to shift the blame on each other at the threadbare discussions with Prime Minister and AL chief Sheikh Hasina over the last few days.
Party leaders told Hasina that, among many other reasons, people's negative perception of various government moves significantly contributed to the stunning defeats.
National issues, including stockmarket debacle, Hall-Mark and Destiny scams, alleged graft in Padma bridge project, police action on Hefajate Islam and Jamaat-Shibir men and the subsequent propaganda against the government, were the main reasons for the defeat. And this is why the government, not the party, should be blamed for the city polls debacle, according to some top AL leaders.
Moreover, one top leader said, ministers and lawmakers had distanced themselves from the party grassroots by behaving badly with them. For this, many local leaders did not actively work for the party-backed candidates.
Party leaders argue that people vote or do not vote an incumbent party-backed candidate considering government's activities, and not the party's activities.
However, some ministers think the party should have held councils at its city corporation units much before the polls and enlisted the support of all workers in the campaign. They blame the party organising secretaries for not doing so.
Their failures resulted in the defeats of the party-supported candidates, the ministers argue.
One minister said the government carried out huge development work in the last four and a half years and whatever votes the AL-backed candidates got was because of government's performance.
“Why will the government take the blame when it has undertaken a lot of development work? Where the party leaders have been? Why haven't they strengthened the party? Is it our failure?” a minister asked, preferring not to be named.
But a senior party leader, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, disagreed with the minister and said the party could hardly redeem the government's failures.
Meanwhile, AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam, Forest Minister Hasan Mahmud, State Minister for Liberation War Affair Capt (retd) AB Tajul Islam and party leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Gono Bhaban residence yesterday evening.
Meeting sources said they had discussed party affairs for about 15 minutes.

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