Sheikh Hasina’s grip on AL firmer

Mostafa Kamal Majumder
The reconstitution of the Awami League Central Working Committee the other day has reflected the party high command’s will to basically retain the faces in its hierarchy and take no risks in the year of preparedness for the next general election.
There are some silent resentments that senior leaders of the party who are known as stalwarts have been left behind in the advisory council, making room for only two new faces in the presidium, the highest policy-making body.
While Mohammad Nasim, a former minister, and Nuh-Ul Alam Lenin have been inducted to the presidium, Dr Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju and Advocate Yusuf Hossain Humayun have been dropped from the 15-member body which still has vacancy for two members.
The 19th AL council session was organised at the Suhrawardy Uddyan on 29 December, to elect a new central working committee as the tenure of the last central working committee expired in July. While party president Sheikh Hasina and general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam were elected at the council, the other names of the 73-member CWC were announced by the party general secretary three days later.
The promotion of Mohammad Nasim is seen as prize for remaining loyal even after his sufferings during the last military-backed caretaker government, and also in view of the political equations in Sirajganj from where he is expected to be nominated for the next Parliamentary elections.
Hardcore Awami Leaguers make no secret of their disliking of the promotion of Nuh Ul Alam Lenin a former worker of the Communist Party. Matiya Chowdhury a former CPB worker has also been retained in the presidium. This however is no departure from Awami League’s growth and development which was significantly influenced by workers of CPB and other leftist parties, who joined the AL when communist party remained banned during the Pakistan period. Initially a break away faction of the Muslim League and named as “Awami Muslim League” in 1949, the party subsequently dropped the word ‘Muslim’ from its name and over time turned into a leftist party under their influence in the early seventies of the last century.
The party has shifted from left to right since the early nineties. The leftists however always remained faithful with the party. Another former CPB worker Nurul Islam Nahid, the minister for education remains as an influential secretary for education affairs in the central working committee.
The only departure from the party tradition remains the continued exclusion of the stalwarts including Amir Hossain Amu, MP, Tofail Ahmed, MP, Suranjit Sengupta, MP, M Abdul Jalil from the presidium. The first three leaders fell into disgrace for talking about reforms in the party during the last caretaker regime, and Abdul Jalil for some unguarded utterances he made while he was under detention during that period.
The dropping of Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju from the highest policy making body reflects loss of party’s popularity in Narsingdi following the murder of the last Mayor of Narsingdi Mohammad Lokman Hossain. The dropping of Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir is interpreted as giving him a freer hand to deal with the opposition in the days ahead where seeds of turmoil look visible.
Party president Sheikh Hasina who has been reelected for the seventh consecutive term looks to have further consolidated her hold on the party. She has retained Syed Ashraful Islam as general secretary, though the AL rank and file say he is not as active for the party as they expect him to be. Ashraful however stands solidly behind the party chief.
The AL council has in fact been reelecting Sheikh Hasina president of the party and empowering her to name other members of the central working committee since the early nineties. With her grip further consolidated, AL’s political lines of thought and action thus look likely to continue to be the same as they are now.
(Source: The New Nation, Dhaka; 06 January 2012)

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