*Organisers go into hiding amid crackdown
*Patrons still at large
Although the name-only bodies that have mushroomed under the banner of ruling Awami League are earning a bad name for the country’s oldest political party, its policymakers seem hardly bothered about the matter.
Instead of proposing action against those bodies, many top leaders extend their support to such organisations and join programmes organised by the members of those bodies in the names of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members.
Interestingly, such leaders back off from their stance after such bodies draw criticism for committing misdeeds.
Party insiders acknowledge that there is no scope of avoiding liability of patronising such platforms by the party’s central leaders.
Intellectuals, loyal to the ideals of Bangabandhu, blamed Awami League for not addressing the matter as the patrons of those organisations are still at large.
Awami League Presidium Member Abdur Rahman said the party high-up has already directed the authorities concerned to take legal action against those who form such unauthorised organisations. “Some opportunists constitute these types of organisations to gain personal interest. But they don’t have any relation with Awami League,” he said.
Insiders say apart from legal action, the ruling party has also started taking organisational action against those who are misusing the relations with Awami League senior leaders and ministers through such ‘shops’.
To this effect, the party itself is collecting information about those who are involved in those organisations, patronising such shops and participating in the programmes of such mushrooming organisations.
Besides, different intelligence sources are gathering information about the wealth and overall activities of such ‘shop’ owners.
Many of them have already gone into hiding soon after AL started taking action in this regard. They have already switched off their mobile phones and removed posters and banners from the party offices and deactivated their social sites to avert action.
The issue came to the table after the arrest of Helena Jahangir, president of Bangladesh Awami Chakrijibi League, and Dorji Monir, president of Bangladesh Jananetri Sheikh Hasina Parishad, by the law enforcement agencies for their controversial activities using the name of the ruling party.
In this connection, Helena, a businesswoman and founder of Joyjatra IP Television, has been relieved of her post in Awami League’s women affairs subcommittee for her involvement in an ‘unauthorised’ organisation that had no official connection with the ruling party.
Former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique blamed the patrons for such mushrooming organizations, saying they give the organisers shelter and protection.
“Those patrons are more sinner than the intruders as it is not possible for anyone to enter the party without getting any backing from party leaders. So, AL should take exemplary action against both of them to restore party discipline,” he said.
Mentioning that intruders not only earn a bad name for the party at home but are also responsible for tarnishing country’s image abroad, Arefin Siddique said, “Those patrons have to take liability of the activities of Mohammad Shahid Islam (known as Kazi Papul) as it is not possible to get nomination for parliamentary election without their backing.”
The ruling party has been facing such problems as numerous platforms have emerged at home and abroad with a central leader at the helm to create hype and make quick bucks after the Awami League came to power in 2009.
In the previous instances, the party high-ups took action against those unauthorised organisations or made public statements denying any connection with those entities only after they hit the headlines, but no notable legal action was taken against them.
In 2017, when Ulema League, another unauthorised organisation, created controversy, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader termed it ‘shop’ and warned of taking legal action against it as it tarnished the party’s image.
However, no action was taken against any other so-called organisation.
But, Awami League Organising Secretary Ahmad Hossain hinted at continuing such action against mushrooming organisations as those are nothing but a platform of unethical practices and taking extortion. “We never owned such organisation. Sometimes, such bad elements enter the party through pores, but we never allow such intruders in the party. Action against such overenthusiastic people will continue,” he said.
“If anyone patronises the mushrooming organisations, they also have to bear the consequences,” he added.
According to party sources, ruling party high command is very much annoyed at the activities of such shops and platforms, associating themselves with the name of Bangabandhu, Sheikh Hasina, Awami, League, Sajeeb Wazed Joy or pretending to be an affiliated body of Awami League.
Founders of most of these organisations are said to be opportunists whose main target is to gain personal benefits from different quarters through using their self-proclaimed affiliation with the ruling party.
Some of the central leaders are responsible for patronising such organisations, insiders say.
They said such organisations were seen holding human chains or discussions at the Jatiya Press Club, Shilpakala Academy and Dhaka Reporters’ Unity over different issues, including Victory Day, Jail Killing Day and Homecoming Day of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
According to Article 25 (7) (Ka) of the Bangladesh Awami League Constitution, the party has eight associated organisations, including Bangladesh Mahila Awami League, Bangladesh Krishak League, Bangladesh Awami Jubo League, Awami Swechchhasebak League, Bangabandhu Awami Ainjibee Parishad, Bangladesh Tanti League, Bangladesh Jubo Mahila League and Bangladesh Awami Matsyajibi League.
Bangladesh Chhatra League and Jatiya Sramik League are two brotherly organisations of Awami League and Swadhinata Chikitshak Parishad is getting blessings of the ruling party.
But, there are many organisations or platforms named after Bangabandhu or members of Bangabandhu’s family or with a name pretending to be an affiliated body of Awami League.
Some of these organisations are Jananetri Sheikh Hasina Kendriya Sangsad, Hawkers League, Muktijoddha Janata League, Awami League Prochar League, Bangabandhu Sainik League, Awami Trinamul League, Bangladesh Awami Sonar Bangla League, Motor Chalok League, Awami Paribahan Sramik League, Awami Samobay League, Jatiya Rickshaw Van Sramik League, Awami Bastuhara Kalyan Samity, Awami Ulema League, Jatiya Bidyut Sramik League, Bangladesh Awami Shishu League, Bangabandhu Parishad, Sammilito Sangskritik Jote, Joi Bangla Sangskritik Oikya Jote, Bangabandhu Lekhok Samity, Bangabandhu Adarsha Mulyayan O Gabeshana Parishad, Sheikh Russell Jatiya Shishu-Kishore Parishad, Amra Muktijoddhar Santan, Nouka Samarthok Gusthi, Bangladesh Muktijoddha Projonmo League, Jatiya Shishu Kishore League and Awami Tarun League.