Rebel candidates might cause troubles for Awami League in the upcoming union parishad (UP) elections beginning on April 11 next as the ruling party is likely to see more dissidents in the local body polls this time.
Insiders say it will be a tough task for the high-ups to tackle the rebels after the party has failed to control them in the ongoing municipal polls.They fear that the party may get more dissidents in the UP polls as aspirants might not agree to quit the election race abiding by the party decision.
Nominating a single candidate in each union for the chairman post will be a big challenge for the ruling party as the tough stance to contain rebels worked little in the municipal polls, party high-ups hinted.
The Election Commission (EC) has decided to hold elections to 4,300 out of 4,500 union parishads in phases. A total of 323 union parishads will go to polls on April 11 in the first phase.
Chairman candidates will vie with party symbols as the government has amended the law while voting for general member and women member (reserved seats) posts will be held on a nonpartisan basis.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has repeatedly spelled out a tough stance on the rebel candidates in the local body elections.
Those abide by the party decision will be evaluated in different ways and those violate it will face dire consequences, including deprivation of nomination and party posts in the future, he warned.According to party insiders, prospective chairman aspirants have started taking all-out preparations to get the party nomination. At least 4-5 candidates are seeking AL ticket in each union.
Aspirants have been showing their interest to get the party ticket as party-supported candidates came out successful in recent elections, they say.
Sources say in many unions, the number of prospective candidates is higher than any other time as Bangladesh Nationalist Party candidates are taking part in the elections in name only.
“I don’t know whether the party will be able to manage other candidates, including rebels, to field a single candidate in each union,” an AL organising secretary told the Daily Sun on condition of anonymity.
Sensing the situation, the ruling party has been executing a tough stance in the municipal elections by expelling rebels and those are working for them.
In some cases, it also changed party candidates for their past rebellion.
Even the party warned of taking action against the patrons and depriving leaders and activists of party posts. But all the efforts went in vain as several dozens rebels participated in the municipal polls and hundreds of leaders and activists of the party and its associate bodies were expelled.
AL Presidium member Faruk Khan told the Daily Sun that people used to participate in the local body polls on a nonpartisan basis for hundreds of years but the new system was initiated just five years ago. “So, it’ll take time to bring discipline.”
"We’ve started taking action against party rebels to bring discipline. Even their patrons won’t be spared, no matter whether they’re ministers or MPs," he said.
"Hopefully, we’ll able to deal with the rebel issue in most of the places," he added.
Party insiders fear that the grassroots may suffer a crisis if the party continues to expel leaders and activists indiscriminately for breaching the party discipline.
Even the internal feud in the grassroots may intensify further centring on the local body polls.
AL Organising Secretary SM Kamal Hossain told the Daily Sun that they will engage their utmost efforts to contain rebels by mounting pressure on them. “Or else, they’ll be relieved of their party posts.”
He also said massive expulsion of leaders and activists will not hamper the party activities. “Rather, this will strengthen the party,” he said, citing a proverb that ‘better an empty shed than a wicked cow’.