Around 15,000 BNP-Jamaat leaders and activists have joined the ruling party over the past 10 years
Over the last decade, pressured by limited political space, many leaders and activists Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh have joined Awami League and its affiliated organisations.
Although these former BNP and Jamaat men are now pledging themselves to the ruling party’s liberal and secular ideals, Awami League veterans claim that these “intruders and opportunists” have been tarnishing their party’s political image by engaging with various criminal activities.
Some members of the party top brass on several occasions had sounded warning against infiltrations and sabotage by BNP-Jamaat leaders and activists since they started joining the ruling party across the country.
Taking that into mind, Awami League at last has started a reformation process to save the party from these so-called intruders, alleging they were creating internal chaos.
According to party sources, around 15,000 BNP-Jamaat leaders and activists have joined the party over the past decade.
After Nusrat Jahan Rafi was set on fire in Feni in April, Awami League’s Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif and other senior leaders claimed that Sonagazi Islamia Fazil (Degree) Madrasa Principal Sirajuddaula — the prime accused in two cases filed by Nusrat’s family — was one of those intruders.
Prime Minister and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina recently also instructed the senior party leaders to identify and expel such infiltrators, hybrids, and extortionists.
She also said that these intruders from BNP and Jamaat have been using Awami League to change their fortune, apart from getting involved in criminal activities.
In this regard, the central leaders last Saturday started organisational trips around the nation as part of the reform drive, attending rallies and meetings, warning grassroots leaders and activists of such intruders and opportunists.
During the process, the party will also identify the intruders and expel them along with the leaders who brought them in the party.
Along with the intruders, Hasina has also ordered to identify and expel the party leaders and activists that are involved in tender grabbing, drug dealing and criminal activities, according to a joint general secretary, who asked not to be named.
At the same time, Awami League will recognize the leaders and activists who played important roles during major crisis moments like the regimes of BNP-Jamaat and the military-backed caretaker government. They will be promoted in the upcoming councils of grassroots units, sources said.
What Awami League leaders say
Awami League Presidium member Mohammad Nasim told Dhaka Tribune that the party needs to be more careful to save its image from the sinister activities of the BNP-Jamaat intruders.
“These BNP-Jamaat leaders and activists are opportunists. They should be kept in chains,” he said.
A Central Working Committee leader, seeking anonymity, said Awami League has become a safe haven for Jamaat men. “They were inducted by several controversial leaders and lawmakers,” said the leader, but declined to name them.
“Jamaat men are choosing to join the ruling party to save themselves from cases filed against them for subversive activities or to keep their businesses and financial interests safe. They will return to their party if they manage to come to power,” the leader added.
Golam Mowla Nakshabandi, adviser to the Awami League Central Working Committee, said: “Including leaders and activists of Jamaat and Shibir in Awami League is the worst decision. Awami League leaders will have to pay for this mistake.
“These intruders may try to kill the party president. All Awami League leaders should avoid Jamaat and Shibir activists.”
Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman added that some BNP and Jamaat men may have joined the party, but Awami League will be careful about them.