In light of the controversy, party chief and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina may issue directives on Wednesday
The spat between Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and his predecessor Sayeed Khokon has left many leaders of the Awami League feeling embarrassed, party insiders have said.
Party leaders are also feeling “uncomfortable” about the recent remarks of Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader's younger brother Abdul Quader Mirza, who is also mayor of Basurhat municipality in Noakhali.
Both the spat and remarks are likely to be discussed at a party meeting with Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair on Wednesday, as the ruling party top brass wanted the issues to be resolved as soon as possible, the sources added.
According to party sources, the issue between Taposh and Khokon was a conflict of personal interest, while the matter of Abdul Quader Mirza was the result of internal family conflict as well as local politics.
Six top leaders of the Awami League’s central working committee were contacted by Dhaka Tribune regarding the Quader Mirza issue, but all of them refused to comment.
During a recent election campaign, Quader Mirza publicly claimed all Awami League MPs in the Noakhali region, except for those from three or four constituencies, “would not have found ways to flee” if the elections had been held in a free and fair manner.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday, Awami League Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim said: “The Awami League is a party run by its constitution. Everyone must obey the constitution and no one is above it.
“If someone from our party has some demands or wants to discuss something, he can place it in our party forum or write an application to the party. Why make defamatory statements in public? The Awami League never gave any party members the right to defame the party in public. We should understand our limits,” he said.
“People didn’t take [Quader Mirza’s remarks] positively; we are feeling uncomfortable,” the joint general secretary added.
The Taposh-Khokon conflict
On December 8, around 911 shops in Dhaka's Fulbaria Super Market were evicted on the ground that they were not in the approved design. Current DSCC Mayor Fazle Noor Taposh led the eviction drive.
During the drive, shop owners complained that the shops had been allotted in exchange of money given to Sayeed Khokon. The former mayor denies the allegation.
Subsequently, the traders submitted some pay order documents to the court, which then issued instructions on investigating Khokon and some other officials of the DSCC.
After news of the matter surfaced, Khokon and some evicted shop owners on Saturday claimed DSCC Mayor Taposh was no longer eligible for office due to corruption.
The former mayor alleged that Taposh had transferred hundreds of crores of taka from DSCC funds to Modhumoti Bank with the aim of making illegal profits.
“The mayor has violated the City Corporation Act 2009,” Khokon said, adding that Taposh should shun corruption himself before looking into the corruption of other DSCC officials.
Taposh, however, brushed off the allegations and described Khokon's remarks as “insignificant.”
“I don’t want to comment on [Sayeed Khokon’s] personal resentment," he told the media on Sunday.
In addition, Taposh on Tuesday urged complainants to withdraw two defamation cases filed against former mayor Sayeed Khokon.
The cases were filed by two “overenthusiastic” lawyers and he (Taposh) had not at all been involved in the process, the current DSCC mayor said.
“I request that those who filed the defamation cases against Khokon withdraw them. If I feel defamed, I will review the matter and act in the future,” he said during a press briefing at Nagar Bhaban in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Earlier on Monday, Advocate Kazi Anisur Rahman and Advocate Sarwar Alam, both members of Dhaka Bar Association, filed the cases with the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court.
“The differences between the current DSCC Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and former mayor Sayeed Khokon will be resolved in time. The two may have differences of opinion on some issues,” said Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) Minister Md Tajul Islam on Tuesday afternoon.
Faruk Khan, a presidium member of the Awami League, said: “I think the conflict between Taposh and Khokon is a conflict of personal interest. It is not a big deal for a large party like the Awami League.
“We have a nomination board meeting on Wednesday afternoon, led by the party President, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Some directives regarding the current issues may come from this meeting, “he added.