Bangladesh’s Awami League goes for a blend of old and new

AL President Sheikh Hasina hinted that the party would "go soft" on disgruntled party leaders who may run for parliament as independents and become opponents to the party nominee.

Partha Pratim Bhattacharjee and Ashik Abdullah Apu

Partha Pratim Bhattacharjee and Ashik Abdullah Apu

The Daily Star


File photo of Minister Obaidul Quader at an event. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

November 27, 2023

DHAKA – The Awami League yesterday unveiled its list of 298 nominees, and three incumbent ministers and 68 other lawmakers did not make the cut.

Names of the rest two nominees will be announced later.

AL leaders and activists believe that the nominations reflect the party’s plan to bring the next generation of leaders to the fore and bench some senior and old leaders.

AL President Sheikh Hasina yesterday hinted that the party would “go soft” on disgruntled party leaders who may run for parliament as independents and become opponents to the party nominee.

The possible change in policy is aimed at making the polls festive and competitive, and improve turnout, said sources.

The AL supremo, while talking to party nomination seekers at the Gono Bhaban yesterday, hinted at fielding dummy candidates in the absence of opposition parties.

She even threatened punitive action against nominees who would win without any competition whatsoever, a meeting participant quoted Hasina as saying.

Hasina urged the nomination seekers, regardless of being nominated or not, to accept the AL’s decision. She urged them to take initiatives to make the polls participatory and to encourage independents.

After Hasina’s meeting with the nomination seekers, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader unveiled the names of the nominees at the AL headquarters on Bangabandhu Avenue around 4:00pm.

Quader was flanked by party central leaders and a large number of nomination seekers at the press conference. Many nomination seekers and their followers were also waiting outside.

The crowd cheered, and chanted slogans when their favourite leaders’ names were announced by Quader.

Three state ministers — Monnujan Sufian of labour and employment, KM Khalid of cultural affairs, and Zakir Hossen of primary education — did not get the party ticket.

Whip Shamsul Hoque Chowdhury was also denied nomination.

Former state minister for information and broadcasting Murad Hassan, who had to resign from the cabinet for his misogynistic remarks, and former minister Khandoker Mossaraf Hossain, who was dropped from all AL committees earlier, were left out.

Habibe Millat, an incumbent lawmaker from Sirajganj-2 and also the son-in-law of Khandoker Mossaraf Hossain, was also denied the party ticket.

Former ministers Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, Abul Kalam Azad, former Bangladesh cricket team captain AM Naimur Rahman, former IGP Nur Mohammad, AL veteran Suranjit Sengupta’s widow Jaya Sen Gupta, former FBCCI president Shafiul Islam, former Dhaka city AL (North) president AKM Rahmatullah, and former Swechchhasebak League general secretary Pankaj Debnath were among the lawmakers who did not get nominated.

The AL announced nominees for 298 constituencies. During the last election, it left out 60 for candidates of its allies.

Nominees for the rest two constituencies, Narayanganj-5 and Kushtia-2, would be announced in a day or two, Quader said.

Jatiya Party leader AKM Salim Osman and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal President Hasanul Haq Inu are incumbents in the constituencies.

Over 50 fresh faces got AL nomination for the first time, including cricketer Shakib Al Hasan, actor Ferdous Ahmed, former additional deputy inspector general of police and investigation officer of Bangabandhu assassination case Abdul Kahar Akand, former chairman of Bangladesh Public Service Commission Muhammed Sadique, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Kamrul Hasan Khan, former principal secretary to the PM Abul Kalam Azad, and former Chhatra League president HM Badiuzzaman Sohag.

The nominees include 37 members of the AL Central Working Committee which has 81 members.

AL praesidium members Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman, Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim, organising secretaries Ahmod Hossain, SM Kamal Hossain and Shafi Ul Chowdhury Nadel, International Affair Secretary Shammi Ahmed, Agriculture Affairs Secretary Faridunahar Laily, Science and Technology Affairs Secretary Abdus Sabur, Information and Research Affairs Secretary Selim Mahmud, central committee members Sanjida Khanom and Sayeed Khokon got party tickets.

Sons of four incumbent AL lawmakers were picked for the constituencies of their fathers.

They are Mohammad Solaiman Selim, son of city AL adviser Haji Selim, was picked for Dhaka-7; Mahbubur Rahman, son of party praesidium member Mosharraf Hossain, for Chattogram-1; Mazharul Islam, son of Dabirul Islam, for Thakurgaon-2; and Rashek Rahman, son of AL treasurer HN Ashiqur Rahman, for Rangpur-5.

Chayan Islam was chosen over his sister Merina Jahan for Sirajganj-6.

Out of the 298 nominees, 24 are women, up from 19 the last time; and 20 nominees are from minority communities, up from 16.

In Satkhira, three out of the four incumbents did not get the AL nomination. In Khulna, three out of six incumbents did not get the nomination. Four out of eight serving MPs were dropped in Tangail. Three of five lawmakers from Rajshahi were denied party tickets and seven of 18 MPs of Dhaka failed to get the party tickets.

There were no changes in 16 districts.

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