50 AL MPs under the scanner

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Dhaka Tribune : Sources said most of the popular Awami League leaders who won in their constituencies in 2014 would get party tickets for 2019

The Awami League has started its groundwork for the 11th general elections in 2019, and the nation might see an unprecedented set of changes in the party nominations as a number of existing lawmakers are likely to be replaced by young and new faces.

The ruling party has also started to make preparations to avert pre-election violence, much like the attacks by the BNP-led 20-party alliance before the 10th general polls on January 5, 2014, party insiders told the Dhaka Tribune.

Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already instructed the existing lawmakers and grassroots leaders to resolve their internal conflicts and prepare for the upcoming polls by highlighting the progress the country has made during the last and current terms of her government, they added.

Referring to the satisfactory performance shown by the young Awami League lawmakers in the 10th parliament, the party chief also announced that more young and dynamic candidates would get the final tickets to take part in the 2019 elections.

Sources said at least 40-50 existing lawmakers would be dropped from the nomination process due to their controversial activities, unsatisfactory performances and lack of communication with grassroots leaders.

Besides, these ruling party lawmakers and their near and dears ones have tarnished the government’s reputation, the sources added.

AL’s strategy to weed out the chaff

When contacted, Awami League Presidium Member Lt Col (retd) Muhammad Faruk Khan told the Dhaka Tribune that their party had yet to finalise the contenders for the 2019 polls.

“The party survey is underway to evaluate the performances of the existing lawmakers. Party chief Sheikh Hasina will finally distribute the tickets based on the survey results,” said the former commerce minister, referring to Hasina’s statement in the party’s last parliamentary meeting.

“It is very simple; the lawmakers who have performed well will get party nomination again, and the leaders whose performances have not been satisfactory will be dropped,” Faruk added.

A member of Awami League’s advisory committee, requesting anonymity, said the party is taking the next elections quite seriously as their largest opposition, BNP, appears to be planning to participate in the election under any government, even though BNP leaders have been demanding for a neutral election-time government.

“The party chief has been keeping a close eye on the lawmakers and grassroots leaders with a view to extracting the best young and dynamic candidates for the elections,” he added.

At the last parliamentary party meeting of the Awami League held at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, Hasina warned the inactive and unpopular lawmakers that they would not get tickets to the 11th parliamentary polls, sources said.

Based on various reports of intelligence agencies, the party chief has apparently made a list of the lawmakers who will be dropped from the nomination process, they added.

A party inspection team and an intelligence agency are always monitoring the activities of existing lawmakers, and the prime minister has also instructed them to provide reports in every six months.

Based on the reports, she also instructed the inspection team to search alternative potential candidates for around 50 constituencies.

Sources said most of the popular Awami League leaders who won in their constituencies in 2014 would get party tickets for 2019.

Seeking anonymity, an Awami League presidium member said a number of the young leaders who got the nominations and won in the last elections have performed so well that their chances of getting nominations again are high.

He further said most of the changes will occur in the constituencies that are primarily known for being strongholds of BNP and Jamaat.

“A good number of former student leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League may get nominations in those constituencies,” he added.

Abdur Razzak, another presidium member, said honesty, popularity, educational background and interaction with the grassroots leaders would be considered as the criteria during the selection of the candidates.

The lawmakers who are at risk

One of the Awami League lawmakers who are likely to be dropped from the nomination process is Bazlul Haque Haroon, member of parliament (MP) from Jhalakathi 1 constituency, as local grassroots leaders complained that he never maintained any contact with them, but had good connection with the local Jamaat-e-Islami leaders.

Bazlul is also the president of Awami League’s Rajapur upazila unit and owns the Raintree Hotel in Banani, Dhaka where two university students were raped on March 28.

There are also allegations that Bazlul, who the local leaders claim joined the party in 2000, took huge amounts of money in bribe to appoint teachers in the educational institutions in his constituency.

The local leaders threatened to leave the party if Bazlul’s nomination is not cancelled in the next elections.

Engineer Enamul Haque, lawmaker from Rajshahi 4 constituency, may also lose his nomination due to a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for illegally accumulating wealth and threatening an ACC official.

There are other corruption allegations against him as well: his real estate company ENA Properties failed to develop a housing project in Uttara under the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) while he allegedly took money from this project using his position in the government.

Cox’s Bazar 4 MP Abdur Rahman Bodi is also on the list for his illegal activities, mostly for being convicted in a case filed by the ACC for accumulating illegal wealth worth around Tk10.79 crore.

Md Golam Rabbani, MP from Chapainawabganj 1 constituency, has allegedly been sheltering armed goons instead of cooperating with the law enforcement agencies, sources said.

Muhammad Golam Mostofa Biswas from Chapainawabganj 2, Md Abdul Wadud from Chapainawabganj 3, Sheikh Afil Uddin from Jessore 1 and Ranjit Kumar Roy from Jessore 4 have been accused of not maintaining connection with their constituency and local leaders, and using their positions for personal gains as well as to aid their relatives.

Nizam Uddin Hazari from Feni 2, AKM Awal from Pirojpur 1, MA Latif from Chittagong 11, Mustafizur Rahman from Chittagong 16, Md Uddin Elias Molah from Dhaka 16, Dr Md Enamur Rahman from Dhaka 19, Narayan Chandra Chanda from Khulna 5, Sheikh Md Nurul Haque from Khulna 6, Shawkat Hasanur Rahman Rimon from Barguna 2, Amanur Rahman Khan Rana from Tangail 3, Mahmud Us Samad Chowdhury Kayes from Sylhet 3, Imran Ahmad from Sylhet 4, and Mohammad Dobirul Islam from Thakurgaon 2 are likely to lose party nominations for the upcoming polls, as well as a number of lawmakers in Barisal, Bhola, Patuakhali, Satkhira, Jhenaidah, Chuadanga, Faridpur, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Narayanganj, Mymenshingh, Sunamganj, Chandpur, Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Comilla, Brahmanbaria, Gaibandha, Rangpur, Bogra, Jamalpur and Pabna, the sources said.