Saturday, November 25, 2017

AL working on strategies to win 'difficult' election, Quader says

  • Shamim Ahamed,
    Published: 2017-07-08 02:32:05 BdST


The Awami League started working out strategies two years before the 2019 general election which its general secretary says will not be 'very easy ' to win.

Obaidul Quader says there can be strategic changes in his party but it will never move away from its 'roots'.

Speaking to a group of reporters at the Setu Bhaban on Friday, Quader hinted at expanding the coalition it leads.

He also spoke about settling infighting in the party, multiple surveys to choose candidates, taking opinions of the grass roots leaders, and setting deadline for MPs under fire to get their act right.

The Awami League has adopted the strategies keeping its main political rival the BNP in mind, but the ruling party is firm about not accepting its demand for a neutral election-time government.

In Quader's words, "The country's stability will be upset if we show leniency to these things."

Quader took charge as general secretary of the party two and a half years after the 2014 general election marred by the BNP's boycott in protest against the government's refusal to step down and install a caretaker government to oversee the balloting.

The road transport and bridges minister, who makes news for touring Bangladesh to see development work of roads and listening to the public, has already held meetings with local leaders of his party in many places.

He shared his experiences and discussed the preparations of his party for the next election with the journalists at the Setu Bhaban.

He said the Awami League was conducting surveys to assess the position of the current MPs. Several nongovernment agencies, university teachers and professionals are doing the surveys along with government agencies, he said.

"We are keeping a close watch."

Quader said the party is also listening to its local leaders and the grass roots will be given importance in picking out candidates. The Awami League held meetings of its representatives in all of its organisational districts except Mymensingh and Barisal.

The grassroots leaders will be asked to recommend up to three candidates before the parliamentary polls, he said.

"We will combine their choices with the surveys to choose the candidates.”

New faces

Obaidul Quader said many fresh faces will be there on the list of Awami League-nominated candidates.

"But I can't go into the specifics now," he said.

The general secretary said MPs who lack in activities or do not have good reputation have been given six months to take corrective measures.

"We will surely nominate them again if they can regain their reputation by this time," he added.

'Settling' disputes

Quader said he was holding meetings regularly to end disputes between leaders.

"We are discussing issues every day. Organisational disputes are being settled. It's natural for a large party to have problems.”

He also said the he was prodding the leaders to work for the nominated candidates despite rivalries or disputes.

"We've told everyone that we don't have any candidate now. Our election symbol boat is the candidate. We'll have to work for it," he said.

'Not ditching roots'

Under fire for bowing down to demands of radical Hifazat-e Islam, Obaidul Quader says the Awami League, which led the Bangladesh’s war of independence, will 'not veer off from roots'.

"The issue of alliance is strategic. I want to tell those in confusion about the changes in our strategy that the Awami League can change strategy when the time requires doing so, but it will not move away from its roots," he said.

According to him, some parties will join the ruling coalition.

"Jatiya Party or the other allies in the 14-party coalition, Tarikat Federation is also in it, were with us in the last election.

"Many others can come in that way," he said. 

"...It's a big issue as to who will be where finally. The time to tell that has not come yet," he added.

‘Seats will be lost'

Quader thinks his party, which is running government for the straight second term after winning absolute majority in 2008, will win fewer seats than it did in the previous elections.

"The Awami League is in power for a second term. This is the third election. It will be very tough to win this," he said.

He referred to the results of elections in Turkey to back up his assumption. "Erdogan's votes decreased in the second election. His support eroded more in the third time."

He based his fears of losing seats on the 'arrogance of MPs and ministers'.

"But we are fully hopeful of victory," the general secretary added.


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