Vol. 5 Num 923 Sun. December 31, 2006  
Front Page

Anger forces AL to review candidature
Flaws found in choice for 100 seats

Continuing grassroots and mid-level leaders' resentment at the Awami League (AL)-led grand alliance's election nominations forced the AL Parliamentary Board to have a marathon meeting yesterday in order to review and consider reshuffling the nominations.

The parliamentary board had a five-hour-long meeting last night and found mistakes in choosing candidates for the election in over 100 constituencies, where nominees with a lower chance of victory were chosen over candidates with stronger grassroots support and a better chance of winning.

A senior AL leader and parliamentary board member preferring anonymity told The Daily Star last night, "We did not judge correctly. A number of candidates who have worked hard in their constituencies were dropped from our nominations list."

"Some leaders have used their influence to nominate candidates less likely to win," he alleged.

Meeting sources and party insiders said a number of parliamentary board members approached Hasina and informed her about the mistakes in giving nominations and told her that they should be corrected.

The AL parliamentary board member and Joint General Secretary Obaidul Quader told The Daily Star, "Yes, we have found some flaws. We have received complaints from a number of constituencies."

"We (the parliamentary board) sat to review the matter and we will choose the best candidates and give our final decision before January 3," Quader added. January 3 is the last day for withdrawing nomination papers.

Yesterday, waves of supporters of nomination-deprived AL candidates thronged Hasina's residence Sudha Sadan to draw attention of the AL leadership.

While many chanted the names of their favourite leader, several others laid down in front of the police barricade until the AL chief came out and assured them of reviewing the nominations.

The Special Security Force and the police, responsible for the security of Hasina, were struggling to keep the disgruntled supporters at bay.

Meanwhile, candidates who did not receive AL nominations, continued to express their dissatisfaction. They claimed the party leadership ignored their own surveys that outlined the grassroots workers' demands and the candidates' chances of winning the election.

AL activists from Sylhet-6 constituency, where AL nomination aspirant Nurul Islam Nahid was overlooked in favour of Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish nominee Maulana Habibur Rahman, threatened the AL leadership of quitting en masse, if Habibur was kept as the grand alliance nominee, a local leader said.

Nahid told The Daily Star last night, "People of Bangladesh and Sylhet know Habibur is a fundamentalist and a militant, that is all I wish to say right now."

Kamaluddin Ahmed Peyaro, who did not get the party ticket as the AL leadership picked Rashidul Islam for Cox's Bazar-3 constituency, told The Daily Star that he would not cooperate with the party candidate. "I refuse to work for him. If I don't get the party's nomination I will compete in the election independently," he said.

Saying Rashidul is an outsider in the area and detached from local politics, Peyaro said, "We will do our best to get rid of these outsiders."

AKM Iqbal Azad Khan, who was refused nomination from the AL-led grand alliance as Kamal Ahmed got the party ticket in Brahmanbaria-2 constituency, told The Daily Star, "If the Awami League survey doesn't have my name in it then the survey was not done properly. Because everyone in my area knows that I am the most likely candidate to win."

"Kamal Ahmed does not stay in the area, he lives in Dhaka and has been staying there for the last five years. He has not participated in a single party activity in the constituency," Iqbal alleged. His supporters demonstrated throughout the day and late into the evening in front of Sudha Sadan.

Iqbal, however, said, "We will accept whatever the leaders decide on January 3, we will support whoever receives the nomination," adding, "I have filed nomination papers as an independent candidate."

Afzal Hossain, who was not given the nomination for Kishoreganj-6 constituency where Alaul Haque was given the party ticket, said, "Another survey must be done, because this survey is not right. I believe I am a more competent candidate than Alaul and my name should be on the corrected nominations list."

AL leader nomination-seeker HM Zaglul Haider, who did not get the AL nomination for Satkhira-5 constituency as the grand alliance chose a Jatiya Party candidate, said, "The alliance will lose the seat because JP does not have strong grassroots support here but the Awami League has."

The supporters of Gazi Kamrul Huda Selim also protested throughout the day in front Sudha Sadan against Mafizul Islam Khan Kamal's receiving the nomination from AL for Manikganj-3 constituency.

Supporters of the nomination aspirants Major (retd) Liaquat Ali of Pabna-2 constituency, Sajjadul Jumma of Jhenidah-3, and Khan Tipu Sultan of Jessore-5 also protested in front of Sudha Sadan last night.