The ruling Awami League goes to national council today with little prospect of seeing changes in the top brass.
Prime Minister and AL President Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the triennial event, joined by 6,000 councillors and as many delegates, at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan this morning.
The councillors are supposed to elect leaders, including a treasurer, 13 members of presidium, the highest policy-making body of the party; 31 secretaries, including three joint general secretaries and seven organising secretaries, according to the party charter.
And as a political party registered with the Representation of the People Order, it must have elected committees.
But signs are there that today it will be a repetition of the last council, held in July 2009, which re-elected Sheikh Hasina president and empowered her to pick other office bearers. Syed Ashraful Islam was unopposed elected general secretary.
Moreover, the council of Dhaka city unit on Thursday made it almost clear that Sheikh Hasina will have the power to decide on all the positions in the central body.
Arranged after a gap of 10 years, the city unit council has authorised Hasina to form the party's city committee. Even an election commission was not constituted as required by the party charter.
Party sources said Hasina might announce the city committee along with the new central committee after the national council.
It is also possible that the national council, which is around five months behind schedule, will allow the present central committee to continue until the next council in December 2015.
AL Presidium Member Matia Chowdhury, also agriculture minister, said the party is holding the council to honour the registration rules.
There would be no major changes in the party leadership, structure, charter and declaration paper through today's council though these are required by the electoral laws, she added.
But, Matia said, the councillors have been elected at the grassroots level and in this case party discipline and constitution have largely been followed.
The election of councillors is an interesting side of the national council. Councillors could not be elected in line with the party constitution as councils of its metropolitan, district and upazila units are long due.
Councils at only eight of the 72 organisational district units and not more than half of 460 upazila units were held in the last three and half years.
The post of either president or general secretary of so far 18 organisational districts remains vacant while both the posts remain vacant in four districts.
Councils have been due in at least 10 organisational districts over the last 15 years, party sources say.
Therefore, the councillors who were elected before the 2002 national council will join today's council like they joined in 2009.
AL Organising Secretary Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury MP, however, claims the AL has never violated its constitution. “Awami League is the only party that follows the party constitution largely.”
Kushtia district AL General Secretary Azgar Ali said they have sent a list of 81 councillors, most of who are nominated, to the party high-ups.
He could not say whether the councillors would be elected in the next three months through councils at the respective units as per the charter.
AL Organising Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim told The Daily Star the party has completed all necessary preparations for the council.
“A festive mood is prevailing among the party leaders, workers and supporters centring the council,” said Nasim, also the chairman of the disciplinary committee for today's council.
The Awami League has invited leaders of different other political parties, business and professional bodies, heads of religious institutions, intellectuals, cultural personalities, envoys of different countries and elites of the city.
Lawmaker Rahmat Ali has been made the chief election commissioner for the national council, AL Deputy Office Secretary Mrinal Kanti Das said.
Last night, the Awami League Central Working Committee (ALCWC) held a meeting and discussed the preparation for the council. The meeting has been adjourned till today.
The ALCWC, the highest decision making body of the ruling party, will be formally dissolved after ending the meeting hours before the national council.
The possibility of coming back of some senior leaders -- known as the reformists -- to the ALCWC has become slim as Hasina rejected a proposal to increase the size of the committee.
In the 2009 council, AL stalwarts Amir Hossain Amu, late Abdur Razzaq, Tofail Ahmed, Suranjit Sengupta, Abdul Jalil, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Sultan Mohammad Mansur Ahmed and Mahmudur Rahman Manna, among others were dropped out of the central committee amid criticism for their “move to reform” the party during the last military-backed caretaker government.