AL central leaders worried ahead of National Council

AL National Council

There are no hints regarding who will be kept in the top brass or who will be dropped

The Awami League is scheduled to hold its 21st National Council later this month to elect a new leadership, and tension is running high among the party’s central leaders as many are afraid of being dropped from the top brass.

The ruling party, which has formed the government three consecutive terms, holds its council every three years in line with its charter. The next council is scheduled to be held on December 20 and 21.

Sources say that a reshuffle is expected this time around, which the party did not experience since 2009. The party’s experience during the army-backed caretaker government had compelled Awami League President Sheikh Hasina to bring some changes in important central posts.

Following that, the party held the last two councils in 2012 and 2016 with no major changes in the Central Working Committee (CWC), except in the general secretary (GS) post in 2016.

In 2016, Hasina, also the prime minister, was re-elected as the party chief the eighth consecutive term, while Obaidul Quader replaced Syed Ashraful Islam as the GS.

In absence of any shuffle, some leaders have been in their posts, like Presidium, secretaries and members, for three straight terms.

Chosen by Hasina, the new leaderships of Awami League’s affiliated organizations — such as Jubo League, Swechhasebak League, Sramik League, Krishak League and Chhatra League — recently saw major changes, and that has made many central Leaders to believe that the party top brass will see a reshuffle too through the upcoming council.

However, nothing is certain until the hammer drops, as at least 10 CWC leaders and several grassroots level leaders who spoke to this correspondent said they are still totally in the dark about the likely changes in the leadership.

The leaders said in previous councils they at least got some hints from the top brass beforehand about possible changes and those forecasts became clear as the council date approached.

But that is not happening this time, leaving many wondering who will remain in the top brass or who will be dropped.

There is also a strong possibility that some leaders may fall from Hasina’s grace and lose their posts as they were either found involved in the illegal casino business and got caught during the anti-gambling raids, said sources.

New GS?

According to sources, names of several leaders are making rounds as the possible candidate for the ruling party’s next general secretary. 

However, those close to current GS Obaidul Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, strongly believe that Hasina will choose him for the post for another term.

Sources also said that there are at least five other central leaders who are at the forefront, in case the party chief want to choose a new GS.

They are Presidium member and Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzak, Joint General Secretaries Mahbubul Alam Hanif and Abdur Rahman, Organizing Secretary Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, CWC member Azmat Ullah Khan.

Khalid, also the state minister for shipping, told Dhaka Tribune: “Our party chief, Sheikh Hasina, is unchangeable.

“But Awami League has a lot of eligible leaders who can become the GS. Only the party chief will choose her running mate for the GS post in the upcoming council.”

Meanwhile, a senior party leader, seeking anonymity, said that there is also a possibility that new faces from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s family — including his grandchildren Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed Joy, Saima Wazed Hossain Putul and Radwan Mujib Siddiq — may formally join politics and even be included in CWC through the council.

At a recent press conference, however, Quader said Hasina told them that Joy, who is also the prime minister’s ICT affairs adviser, was not interested in joining politics at the moment when they asked about him.

“At the end, it’s the party chief’s decision,” he added.

A divisional secretary of the party also told Dhaka Tribune that the party tends to bring change to around 30% of the posts through every National Council. “It may also happen in the upcoming council.”