Published:  12:20 AM, 10 September 2018

The priorities for the Awami League

The warning served by Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader to party leaders and workers could not have come at a better time. He has made it clear that no indiscipline will be tolerated in the party. That is only natural, given the fact that general elections in the country are only months away and the ruling party needs to get its house back in order. 

With the political opposition, including the Left, expressing their fears about the fairness or otherwise of the voting, it is important that the Awami League shape a proper strategy regarding the elections. It has been in office for two consecutive terms, which is a record in Bangladesh's history. A third term in office depends on how carefully the party is able to present its case to the electorate.

The importance of the Awami League in national politics cannot be denied. No one argues that mistakes have been made on its watch, mistakes which have invited severe criticism both at home and abroad. The role of the Chhatra League, the share market scandals, the bank scams, et ecetera, have all given its opponents a weapon to wield against it. 

It is on these points that the party leadership must reassure the country that things will improve in the fresh term it seeks in office. There are the positive factors the ruling party will need to focus on as it launches its election campaign. 

The economy is in good shape, agriculture is healthy and citizens have food on the table. Such realities need to be projected strenuously and repeatedly as Awami League leaders fan out across the country. 

Of course, they will also be confronted with questions about law and order and about rule of law. They must have substantive and convincing answers to such questions if their aim is to come by a good triumph at the elections.

The predicament for Bangladesh since the early years of independence has always been of the Awami League versus the anti-Awami League elements arrayed against the party. That has been a historical reality. 

Be it rightists or leftists, at the end of the day they have always come together in united opposition to the Awami League. Bangabandhu's government faced the problem in its time. In the twenty one years till June 1996, it was a whole range of opportunists and beneficiaries of the violent coup of August 1975 that prevented the Awami League from returning to power. 

oday, a cursory observation of existing realities shows that similar hurdles are being put before the party in order to make its victory at the forthcoming elections difficult. That is a powerful reason why the party needs to pool all its efforts and resources in waging an effective and convincing election campaign.

Obaidul Quader's warning to his party men should broaden out to include the message that they should not only maintain discipline within the party but also go out to the country explaining to the electorate the reasons why it needs a new term in office.

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