AL expels Gazipur Mayor Zahangir from party for remarks on Bangabandhu, martyrs

The Awami League has expelled Gazipur Mayor Zahangir Alam from the ruling party after an audio of his remarks on Bangabandhu and Liberation War martyrs spread on social media.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 19 Nov 2021, 02:05 PM
Updated : 19 Nov 2021, 08:05 PM

Presidium Member Zahangir Kabir Nanak confirmed the decision taken in a Central Working Committee meeting chaired by the party chief, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on Friday.

Zahangir was the general secretary of the Awami League’s Gazipur Metropolitan Unit. He has lost his party membership as well, Nanak said.

General Secretary Obaidul Quader said Zahangir may face legal and administrative action for his remarks belittling Bangabandhu and Bangladesh’s history. “We will formally inform the local government ministry about our decision.”

The Awami League served notice on Zahangir, asking him to explain why he will not be expelled for the “breach of organisational discipline and working against party interests” after the audio spread in late September.

A man, purportedly the Gazipur mayor, is heard making comments in the audio clip on the three million martyrs and Bangabandhu’s role in the war.

Zahangir had claimed at the time that the audio was doctored and a certain quarter spread it as part of a conspiracy against him.

WHAT ABOUT ZAHANGIR’S MAYOR POST?

This is the first time a sitting mayor has been expelled by their party in the five years of mayoral elections to the city corporations with candidates directly nominated by the political organisations. The parties could only back a candidate previously.   

Now it is unclear how the authorities will deal with the issue of Zahangir’s mayoral post as the amended local government election law does not touch on such matter.

When approached, Law Minister Anisul Huq declined comment on the issue, asking to contact the local government ministry.

“It’s a new experience for us. We will have to deal with it after discussing its legal aspects,” said Local Government Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed.

Abdul Mobarak, a former election commissioner, believes Zahangir has lost the ground to continue as mayor because his nomination by the Awami League in the election is no longer valid after his expulsion. “It’s a simple equation.”

Zahangir was elected mayor in June 2018 with the Awami League’s boat symbol by defeating the BNP’s Hasan Uddin Sarker by a huge margin of over 200,000 votes. 

He created controversies as mayor previously on at least two occasions. Before the government approved rapid tests for COVID-19 amid the pandemic, he brought 50,000 testing kits from China, saying that “lives, not rules, come first”.  

He also announced the opening of mosques for prayers before the government ended a ban on gatherings at places of worship amid a coronavirus lockdown.

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