AL, BNP in internal squabble

September 30, 2009

Internal discord has been rife in both the ruling Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party with senior leaders speaking out against respective party standpoints creating confusion and anguish in the rank and file.
Impromptu and often unguarded statements made by some influential leaders to the media have exposed their personal grievances, rivalries as well as loosening fabric of the party hierarchies.
Remarks of former general secretary of Awami League, Abdul Jalil and senior BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury are some of the instances that even embarrassed the chiefs of the two power-contenders and prompted them to make comments or issue warning.
When the top leaders of the ruling party are explicitly engaged in hostility over different reasons including accommodating the overlooked ‘pro-reform’ leaders in the cabinet or presidium, lower echelons are striving to rule the roost in grassroots to control tender and other businesses and make money.
Most of the senior leaders in the BNP are engaged in brawls to rest assured about retaining position or securing promotion in the party, which is gearing up for national council session towards the yearend.
Insiders in both Awami League and BNP said their leaders are yet to recover from the ‘shock therapy’ that they underwent after the January 2007 changeover.
‘Abdul Jalil has caught the party and the government off guard by his recent remarks questioning the party’s victory in the last general election and accusing its leadership and key ministers of having links with the military intelligence,’ a senior Awami League presidium member told New Age Monday.
‘The image of the party is almost shattered as he apparently binned our leader Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana,’ he said.
The party’s immediate-past general secretary Abdul Jalil, who has been in the United Kingdom for treatment, told a London-based television channel that the party came to power through an ‘understanding’ with the military-controlled interim administration.
He also revealed that almost all the ministers had links with the military’s intelligence, and accused some of prime minister’s advisers of attempting to steer the cabinet and hampering the affairs of the government.
His remark drew attention of party chief and prime minister Sheikh Hasina, now in New York attending UN general assembly sessions, who said Jalil should have resigned from the party before speaking ill of election or party leadership.
That seemed not to stop Jalil from speaking, as he told a local Bangla newspaper from London that he would continue to ‘speak the truth’ and that removing him from the party would not be so easy.
Awami League president Sheikh Hasina has so far kept ‘reformist’ leaders out of the cabinet and party presidium.
Stalwarts like Abdul Jalil, Suranjit Sengupta, Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed and Abdur Razzak got no place in the cabinet or in the party’s highest policy-making body, presidium selected through the July 24 national council.
Though some of them have been made chairman of parliamentary standing committees, they are left with no meaningful job in the party as members of the advisory council.
Tofail Ahmed recently said that he would be happy to be an ordinary member instead of remaining as an adviser to the party.
Abdur Razzak went one step further as he said he considers retiring from politics.
Rivalry between the two powerful leaders of Chittagong unit of Awami League indicates that internal fight has its roots spread down to cities and grassroots.
Chittagong mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury and lawmaker Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu exchanged hot words over establishing supremacy in the port city politics before the next city corporation election.
Mohiuddin in a recent media interview claimed himself as a true loyalist and branded Babu, Engineer Mosharraf Hossain and Nur Islam BSc as opportunists.
Matia Chowdhury and Obaidul Kader, members of the party’s presidium, said the party would discuss Jalil’s statement at a meeting of its central working committee on October 3.
‘He [Jalil] is likely to be served a notice to explain his position,’ Obaidul Kader told New Age.
Jalil told a Dhaka-based newspaper Tuesday that he would reply if he got any such notice served from the party.
Most of the central leaders of BNP, on the other hand, were engaged in brawls for retaining their position or securing better place in the party as council session is approaching.
While a section of senior leaders were trying to replace Khandaker Delwar Hossain as secretary general, some advisers to the chairperson and vice chairmen and joint secretaries general are parleying for a place in the highest policymaking body, national standing committee, insiders said.
Followers of party’s senior joint secretary general Tarique Rahman, who has been in London on medical ground since September 12, 2008, are trying to ensure his return home at the earliest so that he can compete for the post of secretary general in the national council session planned in December.
Fights for positions are open in city units as well.
A section of leaders including Sadeque Hossain Khoka and Mirza Abbas are engaged in bickering to have committees in Dhaka and Chittagong within their grips.
Recent remark made by Salauddin Quader Chowdhury to television channels gave further twist to the rivalry between the incumbent and former mayor of Dhaka.
He was also critical of the party chairperson saying that she (Khaleda Zia) had been ‘blind with her affection for son.’
Party insiders said he was summoned to the Gulshan office of party chairperson, who advised him not to make unguarded remarks.
The party has also been sharply divided over the issue of accommodating the leaders who preached ‘sweeping reforms’ in the party during the two-year period of emergency.
Rival groups were staging demonstrations almost every day at the district and upazila levels as senior leaders, former ministers and lawmakers were patronising different groups there.
When asked about the groupings within BNP, Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, a member of the party’s standing committee, told New Age, ‘It is not unusual in a huge party like BNP. Everything will be alright after the council session where the councillors will make the ultimate decision.’
Some leaders of the two parties on different occasions shared their ordeals during the regime of the military-backed interim government that had done everything — from intimidation, arrest, harassment and repression — to lure the leaders into splitting their respective parties since January 11, 2007 changeover.
‘They (military intelligence) are still trying to hook up many of us,’ a joint secretary general of BNP said.

Courtesy of NewAgebd

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