Ruling Awami League’s rebel mayoral candidates in the municipal elections are in fear as the party has taken tough stance against those participating in the polls defying the party directives.
The party has started taking stern action as per its strategy to stop its rebels from contesting the ongoing municipal polls to bring discipline in the organisation.Dozens of Awami League leaders have already been expelled while many are going to lose party posts for breaching party discipline over the municipal polls, party insiders said.
Even the associate bodies of the ruling party are taking action against their leaders for defying party decision centring the local government polls, party sources said.
The fear among the rebels has intensified as party President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly warned the dissidents of taking organisational actions for working against the Boat symbol in any polls. “Those who will work against the Boat and contest polls as rebels won’t get the party ticket in any future polls,” she said while presiding over a meeting of the party’s local government nomination board.
The party president also directed the leaders concerned to look into the allegations over elections that were placed before her from the grass-roots level.
The directive also created a further sense of fear among the dissidents and their patrons, party insiders say.
The number of Awami League rebel candidates in the mayoral elections this time has significantly declined compared to that of any past local body polls.Only 20 rebels are determined to contest the second-phase mayoral elections to 16 municipalities slated for January 16, while 10 dissidents participated in the first-phase municipal polls held on December 28.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader recently warned that stern measures will be taken against any leaders if found violating party discipline.
“The party leaders who will go against party decision won’t get nomination. So, all will have to go by the directives of the party,” Quader said.
“Even, party leaders and public representatives will be brought under scanner. Action will be taken if anyone obstructs the implementation of party decision or provokes anyone to breach party discipline,” he added.
The party high command thinks that the situation this time is far better than any other previous elections though the party cannot contain all the rebels. There is no scope for showing any leniency in the future.
Earlier, the party started distributing nomination forms among the aspirants of second-phase municipal polls on December 13 and picked party candidates on December 18.
Some 317 aspirants collected nomination forms for 61 mayoral posts but most of them later withdrew their candidacy fearing party’s tough action against rebels.
Awami League presidium member Muhammad Faruk Khan told the Daily Sun that it is a good sign for the party that the number of rebels is decreasing.
“Tough organisational stance against the violators of the party discipline will continue for all the elections,” he said.
Awami League sources said many mayors and grass-roots leaders have already been expelled from the party for participating in the mayoral polls as rebel candidates or getting involved in campaign against party-backed candidates.
Those expelled are incumbent mayor of Barguna municipality Shahadat Hossain, incumbent mayor of Kulaura municipality in Moulvibazar Shafiul Alam Yunus, Fulbaria AL general secretary Golam Mostofa, incumbent mayor and AL president of Birganj in Dinajpur Mosharraf Hossain Babul, Narail town AL organising secretary Sardar Alamgir Hossain and incumbent mayor of Kalia municipality and former convener of upazila Swechchhasebak League Fakir Mushfiqur Rahman Liton.
Others expelled from the party are Faridpur Krishak League joint general secretary Liton Mridha, Jhenaidah town AL joint general secretary Taiabur Rahman, incumbent mayor of Arani municipality and AL organising secretary of Arani Muktar Ali and Khoybor Hossain Mawla of Sundarganj in Gaibandha, Bogura upazila AL general secretary Alamgir Shahi Sumon.
The expelled leaders of the associate bodies of the party include Sramik League president of Kamalganj in Moulvibazar Helal Mia, Kamalganj upazila Jubo League assistant secretary Anwar Hossain and Swechchhasebak League convener Kalia in Narail.
Party’s joint general secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim told the Daily Sun that Awami League President Sheikh Hasina’s foresighted decision on taking tough action against the rebels positively impacted on the results of the party-backed candidates.
“Our efforts are going on to convince the rebels to withdraw their candidacy from the elections. We hope some more rebels will withdraw their candidacy before the second-phase elections to 15-16 municipalities,” he said.