RCC, SCC Polls: Liton, Kamran get AL chief’s green signal

Awami League President Sheikh Hasina has given the green signal to AHM Khairuzzaman Liton and Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran to run for mayor in Rajshahi and Sylhet city corporation polls as AL candidates.

Hasina, also the prime minister, informed her party colleagues that she already gave the go-ahead to her party’s mayoral candidate in Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) elections and the candidate already started campaigning. But she did not mention anybody’s name.

On Saturday night, she came up with the decisions at a meeting of the party’s Central Working Committee, highest decision-making body of the AL, at the Gono Bhaban, party insiders said.

On June 15, 2013, elections to Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal and Sylhet city corporations were held, and all the AL-backed mayoral candidates lost to BNP contenders.

Liton, president of Rajshahi city unit AL, and Kamran, president of Sylhet city unit AL, were the mayors, but were defeated by BNP candidates in the last polls.

The party had another bitter experience in Gazipur City Corporation polls held on July 6 that year. The tenure of those city corporation mayors will end in mid-2018.

The DNCC mayoral post became vacant after Mayor Annisul Huq passed away on November 30 last year. By-elections to the DNCC mayoral post are slated for February 26, and the Election Commission will announce the polls schedule tomorrow.

At Saturday’s meeting, Hasina asked Liton and Kamran, who were present at that meeting, to return to their cities and start campaigning, said sources. She also directed them to highlight the government’s development activities during door-to-door campaigns.

Hasina told the meeting that she would monitor their activities in the coming days. If they failed to increase the party’s popularity, she would reconsider her decision, said one of the AL leaders who was present at the meeting.

Contacted, Liton admitted that the AL chief gave him the green signal. “I have already started my campaign and now I will expedite it as I have got the signal from our leader.”

At the meeting, when an AL Central Committee member wanted to know from Hasina about the party’s mayoral candidate in the DNCC by-polls, she replied that she already signalled the candidate and he started campaigning. But she did not mention his name, said sources.

Atiqul Islam, former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, has started campaigning, claiming several times that he got the nod from the AL high command.

Asked, Atiqul told The Daily Star that he met the AL president on December 23 and she asked him to start campaigning. “I am carrying out the campaign on the Awami League chief’s directives.”

Contacted, Kamran declined to comment.

According to AL insiders, the ruling party has taken the elections to seven city corporations seriously as, by winning those, it wants to boost the morale of party activists ahead of the 11th national polls.

But after the party’s election debacle in Rangpur City Corporation, the AL wants to give its best efforts for rest of the city polls to demonstrate its popularity.

The AL suffered a humiliating defeat in the Rangpur City Corporation election on December 21 as its mayoral candidate Sharfuddin Ahmed Jhantu lost to Jatiya Party candidate Mostafizar Rahman Mostafa by a margin of around one lakh votes.

At Saturday’s meeting, Hasina asked her party colleagues to give their best efforts to win the city corporations elections, said sources.