The tenure of almost all the Union Parishads (UP) elected through the elections held in 2016 is about to expire. Although UP elections were held on several occasions earlier this year, the polls were suspended for some time due to the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in the country. The Election Commission has already announced the election schedule for about a thousand UPs, and various political parties are nominating candidates for this election. We already know that the BNP has announced not to contest any polls under the Awami League (AL) government. It remains to be seen to what extent the party will keep candidates out of the local government elections because there are opportunities to run an election as independent candidates. We have already noticed that the ruling party AL has finalised their candidates for the UP elections in the next phase.
An issue that went viral on social media after the declaration of the list of AL candidates has drawn my attention. What went viral on social media is that the one-time president of the Union Chhatra Dal in Narayanganj has received a final nomination as a candidate of AL, which has caused widespread outrage at the local level. A picture of him with Tareq Zia went viral on social media. This is not the only example; new Awami Leaguers or infiltrators who were previously associated with other political parties have been nominated to run in the next elections in different parts of the country. Such a nomination could lead to a negative outcome for the AL in the end.
To satisfy this personal interest, everyone tries to include leaders and workers from different parties. Not only do they end up being included in the team, but they are also given a variety of opportunities and included in the committee so that they act on their word and their position remains consistent at the local level. The Prime Minister and the General Secretary of the party raised the issue of massive infiltration in the party at various times. They both sent a strong message instructing the AL leaders to take action to stop infiltrators. If it cannot be stopped, just as the AL and organisation will suffer, the party may pay in the next election.
We have to keep in mind that the AL has been in power for the last 12 years, and other political parties have become organisationally weak. The biggest thing is that the BNP has become very weak organisationally. Their organisation is not strong anywhere from local to central level due to their leadership crisis and being out of power for a long time. In such a political spectrum, leaders and activists of various political parties, including BNP, infiltrate into the AL. On the one hand, these infiltrators are implementing the plan of their previous party under the veil of AL; on the other hand, they are busy capitalising their interest at the cost of the party's interest and ideology. They are constantly trying to harmonise the position of their party leaders and workers within the AL so that they can return to the party and take a stronger position with the change of power.
If many of these infiltrators get nominations and win the elections, they can act as an obstacle in various activities of the AL and the government. We all know that the policy of the central government is implemented through the local government. By obstructing the implementation of those policies, these leaders will try to send a message to the people that the AL government is not people-friendly. Then they will abuse all possible avenues to personalise their gains, which will be the party's responsibility because they have won the election with the AL's nomination. In the end, the common people for whom our Prime Minister is relentlessly working will be deprived of the real service.
The dominance of infiltrators in the party and the deprivation of dedicated leaders at the local level in terms of nomination are extremely dangerous for the party organisation. If a renegade leader carries on the lifelong ideology of the AL and does not get a nomination and cannot be a peoples' representative, these politicians will gradually wrap themselves up, and there will be a void in the party activities. If these dedicated leaders do not receive their due recognition, the AL may suffer the consequences in the local government elections and the next parliamentary elections. Many leaders, starting from the local level to the central level of the AL, keep the dedicated leaders out of power to consolidate their position at the local level and deprive them of their due recognition. Another reason is to facilitate the legitimacy of all their activities by forming committees with their ‘yes men’.
We know that local government is the birthplace of democracy. Getting electing at the local level, people once get established themselves as policymakers at the national level. That is why it is necessary to nominate dedicated leaders at the local level. If this is done, they will provide better services to the people. At the same time, these leaders will become much more far-sighted over time who will lead Bangladesh in the future.
In many cases, different state agencies are assigned the responsibility to find out information about the candidates. Still, there is also reason to think about how well they are fulfilling their duties. And in this opportunity, the infiltrators are getting the nomination of AL. The AL's political organisation will be strengthened along with increasing anticipation for winning the 2023 National Parliament elections and the possibility of attaining Vision 2041 if they could nominate dedicated leaders in all elections. The AL is a political party that does not have a shortage of leaders and workers. As a result, the only expectation is that the real leaders of the party should be nominated in the elections. We have to keep in mind that infiltrators can increase the number of party leaders and workers, but they will never vote for the party. Realising this fact let us all think for the organisation going beyond individual interests.
The writer is a Professor, Department of Public Administration, University of