Shantimoy Chakma, Bandarban
Awami League intra-party conflict in the Bandarban-300 constituency is widening ahead of the national parliamentary election.
Leaders and workers of two feuding groups—one led by state minister for Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing MP, and the other by expelled president of Bandarban district Awami League Prasanna Kanti Tanchangya and its general secretary (also expelled from party) Kazi Mujibur Rahman, have been throwing challenges as well as abusive words at each other.
Terms like Rajakarer bachcha (son of traitor), munafeq (betrayer) and ungrateful men are being hurled against each other at public gatherings and in the social media as well, thus dampening the AL’s hope of winning this constituency.
Political observers and party’s insiders are expressing fears that the ruling party may be defeated by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) this time, due to the infighting.
Prasanna and Kazi Mujibur blamed Bir Bahadur’s ‘dirty politics’ for the total disarray and bad situation of the party in Bandarban today. Prasanna and Mujibur met party president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last month, and informed her about the party’s bad situation. Hasina instructed them to work together and assured them to oversee the matter later.
“We requested our party’s chief (Hasina) not to give nomination to Bir Bahadur as AL may be defeated if he runs with the party ticket in Bandarban,” said Mujibur.
Throwing a challenge, Mujibur said Bir will fail to recover his security deposit this time.
Prasanna Kanti said, Bir Bahadur made the ultimate power houses of his own residence and the residence of chairman of Bandarban Hill District Council Kya Shoi Hla, who is the elder brother of Bir Bahadur’s spouse. To perpetuate his power, Bahadur has been hatching conspiracy since long to exclude dedicated, hard working and talented leaders from the party.
So, he made the AL district committee his ‘pocket committee’ by abusing power. Bir Bahadur is solely responsible for the situation today for his family-centric politics, alleged Prasanna.
Abusing power, Bir made his close relative Kya Shoi Hla the president of Bandarban district unit AL, showing me and Kazi Mujibur expelled for so-called violation of party’s discipline, claimed Prasanna.
The rift in the AL started in Bandarban after party’s council in 2008, and widened further when the AL-led grand alliance came to power and formed the government again in 2009.
Since then, Bir Bahadur started his ill-mission with his close relatives.
Prasanna said, after the party’s council in 2012 we (me and Kazi Mujibur) were elected as president and secretary respectively again. Later, Kya Shoi Hla’s name was listed in the new district committee as senior vice president depriving the most senior leaders. Then instantly, I protested such an unacceptable decision which had been made by Bahadur. But he did not pay heed to my words, but rather he (Bir) told me to do whatever I want. As per his ill-designed, Kya Shoi Hla was subsequently made president of district AL and chairman of Bandarban Hill District Council for the fourth consecutive term.
Prasanna and Mujibur brought allegations of Bir’s amassing huge ill-gotten wealth through recruitment business, manipulation of tenders and embezzlement of hundreds of tonnes of food grains allocated against Bir Bahadur and Kya Shoi Hla’s names over the past few decades.
‘I was the president in the district AL for the past eighteen years, 1997 to October 2014 uncontested. I have been working relentlessly in the party from 1969, till today. Now I have become physically challenged, as the armed cadres of opponent party shot aiming to kill me. Now I am a bedridden man, the pain which I have to bear until my death,’ lamented Prasanna.
Prasanna contested in the 2014 national election as rival candidate against Bir Bahadur in Bandarban. But he lost to Bahadur bagging 34 thousand votes, against Bir’s 60 thousand.
Virtually, I was not a rival candidate. I sought party’s nomination as Bir Bahadur told me he would not vie that time. Later, he (Bir) also sought nomination from the party and he contested. I tried to withdraw my candidature, but I failed because my party’s leaders and workers would suspect me and there would be a misunderstanding with them, claimed Prasanna.
Subsequently, Kya Shoi Hla and Islam Baby were made president and secretary respectively in the district committee, and they expelled Prasanna and Mujibur on the pretext of violating party’s discipline.
Prasanna and Mujibur, however, claimed that they were not expelled. No one can expel anybody from the party from district committee. They said, they did not get any documents on their expulsion from the central body.
Former secretary Kazi Mujibur alleged that abusing power, Bir Bahadur made Kya Shoi Hla party’s president and further gave him the post of chairmanship in the Bandarban district council for the fourth consecutive terms, disappointing the other dedicated leaders seriously.
Mujibur said, Kya Shoi Hla’s father May Aung Master was a Razakar. So, he is son of a Razakar. After liberation of the country in 19971, May Aung was detained by the Mukti Bahini and confined in the then office of the Mukti Bahini Sangram Parishad. Later, he was freed after giving a bond. He had to give attendance once a day in the Sangram Parishad office for his misdeed. We have documents,’ claimed Mujibur.