Vol. 5 Num 976 Tue. February 27, 2007  
Front Page

AL high-ups wary of 'unwanted' deals
Agree to decide important matters thru' discussion

The Awami League (AL) high-ups have reached a consensus that every important decision should be taken after discussion with all high-ranking leaders to avert incidents like signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish.

At a closed door meeting attended by party President Sheikh Hasina on Sunday night, most of the top leaders candidly expressed their views on the 'problems' inside the party.

At the meeting called as part of the AL's move to bring reforms in the party, they pointed out many irregularities and activities contrary to the party constitution, said sources in the AL seeking anonymity.

Severely criticising the issue of AL's signing the MoU with a fundamentalist party, AL presidium members Abdur Razzak, Tofail Ahmed, Suranjit Sengupta and Kazi Zafarullah told the meeting that the incident was against the constitution of the party.

Moreover, the top leaders had not been informed before taking such a crucial decision, they said at the meeting.

Signing of the deal came as a blow to the AL's fundamental principles including its secular stand, Suranjit said.

Tofail said he was not informed about the signing of MoU despite being a top leader of the party.

Razzak and Zafarullah also echoed the same view and questioned the rationale for making a written deal on such a matter.

The four top leaders came down heavily on party General Secretary Abdul Jalil for signing the deal, sources said.

Jalil told the meeting that at least three points of the MoU -- including declaring the Kadianis non-Muslim and issuing Fatwas -- had been misinterpreted in the newspapers, meeting sources said.

He had rather tried to bring Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish into 'secular politics' through signing the deal, Jalil said.

The AL presidium members, who declined to accept Jalil's version, said there is no alternative but to admit that the signing of the deal was a direct attack on AL's secular foundation.

At that stage party chief Sheikh Hasina intervened to say that they had to sign the deal in a crisis period to strengthen the AL-led grand alliance so that they could foil the planned 'one-sided' election on January 22, said the sources.

Hasina told the meeting to continue such 'intra-party debates' with open mind so that the high-ups could get a real picture of the overall situation.

The AL president initiated holding regular meetings at her Dhanmondi office with a view to modernising the party by carrying out reforms that would strengthen internal democracy, party sources said, adding that it will also help to take collective decisions and establish accountability at all levels.

"We will involve leaders of the party at different stages of the party's planning," AL Presidium Member Kazi Zafarullah told The Daily Star after the meeting on Sunday night.

The AL leaders decided to hold a meeting of the party's Central Working Committee on March 3.

The meeting to be continued for several days will review overall situation including the reform issues, AL Joint General Secretary Obaidul Quader said.

"We will make public the changes that are going to be brought in our manifesto, constitution and committees to meet the demand of time," he added.

The AL leader, however, declined to comment about the debate on the MoU deal with Khelafat Majlish.