Awami League President Sheikh Hasina yesterday made the MP aspirants from the party promise to accept whoever she nominated for the upcoming election and work together for them.
“You will have to promise me [by] raising your hands if you accept and [will] abide by my decision. If you don't work together following my decision, I will not be there [in the party],” she said while addressing the party's nomination hopefuls at the Gono Bhaban.
Afterwards, all the nomination seekers raised their hands and promised to work together for the party nominees, several of the aspirants told this correspondent.
Before Hasina's address, AL's General Secretary Obaidul Quader warned the aspirants saying, “If anyone goes against the party's decision, they will be expelled from the party forever.”
Over 4,000 nomination seekers, flanked by their supporters, gathered at Hasina's Dhanmondi office, where the meeting was supposed to be held, at 11:00am.
Later around 12:30pm, they went to the Gono Bhaban, where the meeting was shifted to.
went to the Gono Bhaban, where the meeting was shifted to.
“I never demanded anything from you. But this time I want one thing from you,” Pijus Kanti Sarker, an aspirant from Mymensingh-1, quoted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as saying at the meeting.
“All of you are competent and dedicated candidates to get nomination. But I will not be able to give the nomination to more than one candidate for each seat. That's why I want that you accept my decision and work with unity to help the nominees win,” she urged.
The PM also said: “I will not be there [in the party] if you don't work together in favour of the party nominated candidates.”
At this, the aspirants shouted “no, no”.
Issuing a note of warning to the party hopefuls, Hasina said, “Don't create opportunity by creating division within the party regarding selection of candidates so that the anti-liberation forces BNP-Jamaat come to power.”
Emphasising the need for unity to win the 2018 election, Hasina said there was no alternative to win the polls.
“This time the situation is not so easy like the one during the 2014 national election.”
“Awami League is popular among the people. No one will be able to defeat us in the next election if we remain united,” Dipok Kumar Roy, a nomination seeker from Thakurgaon-1, quoted PM as saying.
About the process of selecting the party's nominees for contesting in the election, the PM said she had surveys conducted by different international and local organisations about the prospective candidates.
“I will give nomination considering those reports,” she said.
The premier also said, “There are several big leaders in the party. But people are not with them as they don't have a good connection with people. I will give nomination to those who have people's support.”
Saying that the national election would be a challenging one, the AL chief called upon the party leaders to take it seriously.
“Don't think that you will get elected easily as the election will be held with the party in power. You will have to go to people to win their hearts,” Probir Kumar Roy, an aspirant from Thakurgaon-2, quoted the premier as saying.
Saying that AL would have to share seats with the partners of the grand alliance, sources quoted Hasina as saying that many competent leaders might not get nomination for this reason.
“But you will have to accept this for the sake of the greater interest.”
Pointing to the large number of nomination seekers from several constituencies, the PM expressed worry saying it was not a good sign.
“Even it has happened that 52 people collected nomination forms to contest from a single seat. Besides, there are many constituencies from where 20 to 30 people collected nomination forms. Why did it happen?” asked Hasina.
She also questioned why so many MP hopefuls could collect nomination forms for a single seat in different districts and why the incumbent MPs in those constituencies couldn't tackle this.
“Didn't they behave well with the party men in their constituencies? Didn't they have good contact with people?” she asked.
“It was the failure on the part of those MPs and the party's respective leaders as well. They couldn't unite the party in their areas. I will consider this issue while giving nomination.”
A total of 52 AL men bought nomination forms to contest from Barguna-1. There are also several seats, including Feni-3 and Brahmanbaria-5, for which 20 to 25 people collected nomination forms.
Pointing to the BNP's decision to participate in the election, Hasina called upon the party men to remain alert so that the opposition party could not create any anarchy in the country during the polls.
The PM also said those who were elected representatives in different union or upazila parishads, would not be eligible for nominations.
Emerging from the meeting, several nomination seekers told this correspondent that they welcomed the PM's strong directives to them.
“But it would have been better if some of us were allowed to speak in the meeting. We could inform netri [party chief] about the real situation in our constituencies,” said a nomination seeker wishing anonymity.