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AL trying to win over people after facing two challenges

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Logo of Bangladesh Awami LeagueCourtesy

Ruling Awami League is facing two challenges that they did not come across in 14 years of their rule. The ongoing economic crisis and strong presence of opposition BNP on streets of late has made the ruling party rethink its stance.

AL leadership is now concentrating on two things to face the challenges. Firstly, they are trying to win over the people, pleading them to vote for AL again. If necessary, they are not even shy to seek apology from the people. They are also trying to convey a message to the people that prime minister Sheikh Hasina is able to face the ongoing economic crisis.

Secondly, AL is trying to resolve the internal conflicts at various levels of the party. Remaining in power for a long time has slackened the party activities and internal feuds reared its head in different places. AL leadership is trying to resolve the issue through holding district and upazila councils. The AL leaders are sending a message to the grassroots about the stiff challenge they would face from the opposition should they fail to resolve internal conflict.

The opposition parties are heating up the streets demanding the next election be held under a neutral polls-time government. AL leadership thinks the demand might be intensified in coming days. They also think that winning the next election would not be so easy this time even if the election is held under the incumbent government.

Prime minister and AL president Sheikh Hasina in the party’s recent meetings said the next general election would be tough one and she would not take the responsibility of making anyone win the election. The party highups and the mid-ranked leaders have already got the message and they are now trying to pass it to the grassroots. That is why the central leadership in councils are pleading with the people for votes and urging partymen to get united.

AL leadership thinks that party’s unity is important to get over the challenges of coming days. Alongside propagating the government’s sucesses, they think showing leniency to the people is of equal importance.

AL’s central organising secretary Abu Sayeed Al Mahmud Swapan in his speech in the council meeting of Noakhali’s Sonaimuri upazila unit sought unconditional forgiveness to people on behalf of the government, AL lawmaker, upazila chairman, mayor, union parishad chairmen or party leaders-activist if they hurt them.

“There are some bad people in Awami League. Don’t punish us because of them,” he said and urged party leaders to go to people.

“Please don’t be boastful. Go to people from now on and win them over. Plead to them and seek their forgiveness and urge them to vote for the boat,” he added.

Party leadership said Abu Sayeed Al Mahmud’s speech is part of AL’s political strategy. They fear that people’s support to the ruling party might decrease due to unbridled hike of essential commodities. Moreover, those who were victims of wrongdoings of AL leaders and activists might oppose the party. The ruling party leadership also emphasises on correcting the party’s leaders and activists.

Speaking with this correspondent on Friday night, Abu Sayeed Al Mahmud said Awami League believes in the power of the party and people. This is why AL  focuses on strengthening  the party and going to people.

He said there should not be any qualms to seek apology to people if any leaders inflict any pain to them.

AL general secretary Obaidul Quader is speaking at every district council of the party joining either in person or virtually. Alongside criticizing the opposition BNP, he is also pleading for people’s support. Joining the party council of Gaibandha district unit on Saturday, he said Awami League has to be saved for the sake of Bangladesh and liberation war. Another term of Sheikh Hasina is needed for continuation of country’s development.

AL sources think the brute majority of AL in the last two national elections could not bring about any big achievement for the party and the government. Many people have become lawmakers but they were not well received by the people. Also the party had to face criticism from the foreign friends.

Japan’s ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki recently said, “I heard that the police officers stuffed ballot boxes in the night before (the last election). I’ve not heard anything like that in any other country of the world.”  

Such a remark from a friendly country’s ambassador has put AL in an embarrassing situation. Leaders of Awami League think that such embarrassing statements or pressuring messages may come more in the coming days. In such a situation, it is vital for Awami League to show organisational strength and public support behind them.

Many AL central leaders think many of the party lawmakers of last two elections were not of any use to the party’s cause.  They rather were focused on creating rifts at the grassroots and making their own fortunes. This is why the AL president sent a message that no one would be made winner this time. Analysing this message, AL leaders think that the party might be focusing on winning a slim majority in the next election. The party highups has set a target to win 160 or slightly more constituencies out of 300 to form the government.

AL’s next council would beThe nheld on 24 December next. The party is holding councils of district and upazila units before the central council. Council of half the districts-upazilas have been held in last two months.

AL is trying to hold councils with huge gatherings of people as BNP started to hold its divisional rallies from 12 October.

The names of the president and secretary are being announced in most of the district councils. The full-fledged committee would be declared later. In most cases, the president and secretary posts are not getting new faces. AL leaders said preparing a person for president or secretary post take 10 to 15 years. So, they cannot be removed suddenly. Change is made in these posts only if the office bearers die or fall sick. Even if no change is made in the top leadership, a council in district or upazila level stirs up the party men. Awami League needs this stimulation right at this moment.

Two central leaders of AL in informal conversation with this correspondent said most of the party leaders, ministers and lawmakers had grown a belief that they would not need to go to the people anymore. This attitude had harmed the party. The party is now looking to mend this damage.