AL vs. AL one more time: Intra-party tensions escalate ahead of UP polls


Abu Jakir :
In what appears to be a growing rift within the ranks of the ruling Awami League (AL), the party is facing significant challenges in controlling its Members of Parliament (MPs) and Ministers ahead of the upcoming Upazila Parishad Elections, set to commence next month.

The failure to enforce party directives has led to an internal struggle, pitting AL members against each other in what is becoming a battle of AL versus AL.

Despite repeated directives from the party’s higher echelons, MPs and ministers affiliated with the AL are openly supporting their preferred candidates for the local body elections.

Furthermore, reports indicate that supporters of these MPs and ministers are resorting to threats and intimidation tactics against other aspiring candidates within the party who seek to contest the elections independently.

This disregard for party unity and discipline has resulted in a fragmentation of the grassroots Awami League, with factions emerging within the party.

Abu Sufian Shafiq, a prominent AL leader at the Thana level, expressed scepticism regarding the party’s ability to rein in MPs and ministers involved in local body elections.

He emphasized the natural inclination of elected officials to endorse candidates aligned with their interests but urged party leadership to intervene by nominating official party candidates to mitigate intra-party conflicts and maintain discipline at the grassroots level. Failure to address these internal tensions, he warned, could jeopardise the unity of the party in the future.

The upcoming Upazila Parishad Elections, much like the 12th parliamentary elections, are expected to witness fierce competition among AL leaders, as the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has opted not to participate.

In the 150 upazilas scheduled for the first phase of elections, an average of three AL candidates are vying for each seat.


Meanwhile, to address this unconventional approach, the Awami League’s top echelon has initiated deliberations with MPs and ministers from various divisions.

Recently, the party’s General Secretary, Obaidul Quader, convened meetings with leaders, MPs, and ministers from Rangpur and Chattogram divisions at the Awami League central office in the capital. During the discussions, Quader issued directives to party members, MPs, and ministers, stressing the importance of adhering to the party’s stance on the local body elections and refraining from meddling in the electoral process. The party’s central leaders will sit with the leaders of the Rajshahi division on April 19 to talk over the issue, sources said. Quader firmly said, “Influence in the polls by MPs would disrupt the entire process to promote their chosen candidates, which cannot be allowed. No interference will be tolerated.”

The absence of official Awami League candidates has given a competitive edge to the upazila parish elections this time around. Nevertheless, the party’s MPs, ministers, and grassroots leaders are actively backing their favoured aspirants across different regions. Some have already touted their preferred candidates as de facto party nominees. Consequently, internal discord within the Awami League has escalated following the parliamentary elections held on January 7.
In a recent survey across 17 districts, eight Awami League MPs, ministers, and state ministers have either declared their candidatures or voiced support for candidates. While formal announcements are pending in most regions, local MPs are rallying behind their preferred contenders.

In an intriguing development, Kalapara Upazila Parishad in Patuakhali witnessed the nomination of two individuals as ‘party candidates’ for the chairman and vice chairman positions. This move has sparked interest among several local Awami League leaders, with some viewing it as a challenge to party discipline.

Regarding candidatures, Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mahibur Rahman remarked, “They are candidates from our party; they wish to contest the polls, and I have acknowledged that. There is no opportunity to nominate party candidates.”

In Islampur Upazila of Jamalpur, discussions are underway for the second phase of elections, with three local Awami League leaders vying for candidacy. During a special extended meeting, MP and Religious Affairs Minister Faridul Haque Khan declared himself the sole candidate for the chairman position.

In response to these developments, AL Organising Secretary Mirza Azam emphasised the party’s stance against MPs and ministers fielding their candidates for the Upazila elections.

He reiterated that every party member must abide by the decisions of the party leadership. While affirming the right of individuals to run as candidates independently, he clarified that they would not enjoy the party’s endorsement.

Azam assured that no punitive action would be taken against such candidates as the decision for open elections had been made centrally.