Eminent citizens of the country have welcomed the re-election of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the president of Bangladesh Awami League in the 20th national council of the party, which concluded on Sunday.
“There is no alternative to Sheikh Hasina at the moment for the Awami League. Nobody but Hasina would be accepted to the party because new leadership still has not grown to carry the party forward,” said Prof Rounaq Jahan, distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue and former adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.
Rounaq recalled that Hasina took the helm of the Awami League in 1981 when the party was facing a leadership crisis.
She described Hasina's desire to find a successor during her lifetime as “good thinking… that will enable her to cultivate new leadership who can carry the Awami League.”
This is Hasina's eighth consecutive term as the president of the Awami League.
“It is true that there is no one except Hasina that can keep the party united and that is why the party leadership relies solely on her.
“Although Hasina has spoken about possible retirement at this council, it is not likely to be welcomed by the party until future leaders are groomed to take over. It is difficult to speculate how long it will be before Hasina actually does decide she is ready to retire from politics,” Rounaq added.
Citizens for Good Governance (SHUJAN) Secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar said re-electing Hasina as the party president was a wise decision.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has initiated many projects for the economic development of the country. At this stage, it is wise to keep her as the party president,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Nur Khan, acting executing director of Ain o Salish Kendra, also said there was no alternative to Hasina for the post of president in the Awami League.
“It is not about political dynasty, it is about the crisis of leadership,” he explained. “Since democracy is not practised in the political parties from grassroots to central level, there is no capable leaders to lead the parties. So Awami League cannot see any other leader taking the helm of party,” he said.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, Hasina was the obvious choice for the top post of the ruling party – the oldest political party in the country. “There is no better candidate for the party than Sheikh Hasina,” he said.
Referring to the election of Obaidul Quader as the party's general secretary, Iftekhar said the party leadership was indeed changing to bring in the new generation of leaders, which was also good for the party.
Quader has been elected as the general secretary of the Awami League for the first time, replacing Syed Ashraful Islam.
Human rights activist Khushi Kabir said change in the party leadership would not make a difference if the leader is capable and accepted by the party.
“Sheikh Hasina has been the president of the Awami League since 1981, when she was elected president for the first time. She was young then and there were many leaders in the party with more experience. So it is not a matter of being young or old, it is about being accepted and capable to lead the party,” she told the Dhaka Tribune.
Asked about the election of Quader as general secretary, Khushi said: “He [Quader] has been involved with politics since he was a student. So it may be a collective decision.”
Hasina and Quader were unanimously elected by the councillors of the Awami League as there were no other candidates for the top two posts in the party.