Scores of Awami League leaders, who ran for upazila parishad chairman’s office as rebel candidates and won, are likely to lose their posts in the ruling party.
Many of the 126 AL rebel candidates who are now upazila chairmen hold the posts of president, general secretary and organising secretary at upazila- and district-level AL units, party sources said.
The AL has decided that they would not be eligible to run for any posts in the upcoming grassroots councils, the sources added.
Besides, around 30 AL MPs, three to four ministers, and some central and grassroots leaders would be served show-cause notices for supporting and patronising rebel candidates during the upazila polls held earlier this year.
The AL would serve the rebels with the notices and give them three weeks to respond, party insiders said.
The decision was made at a meeting of AL’s joint general secretaries and organising secretaries with General Secretary Obaidul Quader in the chair at the AL president’s Dhanmondi office yesterday morning.
Briefing newsmen afterwards, Quader said, “Even the party’s central leaders, ministers or MPs, who were involved in the violation of party decisions during the last upazila elections, are on the list [of people to get the notices].”
However, the AL Parliamentary Party at a meeting at the Gono Bhaban late last night decided that the rebels would be served show-cause notices, not their patrons.
Chaired by AL President Sheikh Hasina, the meeting decided the leaders who backed the rebels would be dealt with later, sources told The Daily Star.
The meeting also discussed Chhatra League. Hasina expressed discontent over the way the organisation is being run by its president and general secretary.
Earlier in the day, AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif told The Daily Star, “They [the rebel candidates] contested upazila elections against the party-nominated candidates and it is a clear violation of party discipline. We will take the final decision about them after getting their replies.”
The AL Central Working Committee, the highest decision-making body of the party, at a meeting on July 12 decided to expel rebel candidates and serve show-cause notices on leaders, MPs, and ministers who backed them.
According to the AL constitution, rebel candidates and their patrons within the party are to be expelled from the party or its front organisations following a probe.
In recent years, rebel candidates in national and local body elections were a big headache for the AL high command.
In its charter adopted in July 2009, the party included a provision for expelling rebels in national polls. At its last council in 2016, the AL adopted the same measure for rebels in local body polls.
But the provisions did little to deter the rebels.
In the last national election in 2018, the party saw rebel candidates in almost all constituencies.
This prompted its President Sheikh Hasina to declare on October 26 last year, “Once a rebel, a rebel forever, and rebels will be expelled from the party for life.”
Elections in 480 upazilas out of 492 were held in five phases between March and June this year.
For the first time, political parties nominated candidates for the posts of chairman, vice-chairman, and female vice-chairman.
Data from the EC shows that AL chairman candidates won in 321 upazilas and independent candidates in 150 upazilas. Most of the independents are actually AL rebels.
For instance, in Kaliakair upazila of Gazipur, former upazila AL president and incumbent executive member Kamal Uddin Sikder defeated AL-nominated candidate and district committee executive member Rezaul Karim Russel.
Liberation War Affairs Minister and local MP AKM Mozammel Huq supported Sikder.
In Sreepur upazila of the district, upazila AL president Shamsul Alam defeated AL-sponsored candidate Abdul Jalil who is also the upazila unit vice-president.
Local MP Iqbal Hossain Sabuj backed the rebel candidate.
Shamsul Alam said, “I will accept whatever decision the party makes. I had earlier accepted them, and will accept them in future.”
Referring to Quader’s remarks, he said the AL general secretary had announced they would welcome any dedicated AL leader after the BNP decided not to run.