AL policymakers push for disciplinary action without option for appeal against Zahangir in Gazipur

Zahangir sought candidacy to run against a ruling party-nominated candidate in the upcoming city polls in Gazipur

Published : 14 May 2023, 04:00 PM
Updated : 14 May 2023, 04:00 PM

Ruling Awami League’s top policy-making body has recommended decisive disciplinary action without an option for appeal against Zahangir Alam, the mutinous party leader who had been quarterbacking a mayoral campaign for his mother against the party’s nominated candidate in the May 25 Gazipur city elections. 

After a meeting in Dhaka on Sunday, the party’s Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim said the presidium members would send their recommendations to the party’s president, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, soon. 

In 2021, Zahangir was ejected by the Awami League and suspended from the post of Gazipur mayor over allegations of making an objectionable statement about Bangabandhu and reports of irregularities by the Gazipur city unit of the party. 

After the expulsion, he refuted the allegations of making derogatory comments about Bangabandhu. The party reinstated him as a member in January under its amnesty scheme ahead of the general elections.

Who is Zahangir Alam?

    - He was once the vice-president of the Bangladesh Chhatra League central committee.

    - He was once elected vice-chairman of Gazipur Sadar Upazila.

    - He entered the national spotlight in 2013 when he announced his candidacy against Azmat Ullah Khan, Awami League’s chosen candidate, as an independent. After much drama and a few meltdown episodes, Zahangir decided not to contest against Azmat Ullah. However, it was too little, too late already, as the withdrawal cutoff date had passed. Azmat Ullah suffered a heavy defeat against a BNP candidate despite Gazipur having long been considered a robust Awami League base.

    - Zahangir said his party “selected the wrong candidate” after the polls.

    - In 2018, the Awami League picked Zahangir as its candidate for the mayoral race, and he was elected mayor in a landslide victory.

However, as soon as Awami League this year nominated Azmat Ullah Khan, a veteran politician from Gazipur who ran a mayoral campaign in 2013, Zahangir filed for candidacy to run for Gazipur mayor post as an independent and supported his mother to run for the same office as well. 

Critics said it was the same tactics Zahangir played back in 2013 when he ran against Azmat Ullah, which divided the Awami League votes. The rift resulted in the victory of a BNP-supported candidate in Gazipur City, generally considered a stronghold of the ruling party. 

Nasim said the party stalwarts are livid that Zahangir dared to go against the party president’s decision and would like to make an example out of him. 

It became apparent that Zahangir would face the music for his recent activities when another senior Awami League leader said a few weeks ago in public said actions would be taken against the former Gazipur mayor for breaching the party’s “discipline”. 

“As soon as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returns home, we will recommend she take action against him,” said Awami League's Dhaka Divisional Organising Secretary Mirza Azam. 

Zahangir’s electoral hopes were dashed this year after a recent High Court verdict, which found him ineligible to run for the Gazipur mayoral post as he is listed as a “guarantor” of a defaulted loan. 

Zahangir filed the writ petition with the higher court after the Election Commission and an election appeals authority rejected his candidacy application, citing the exact cause. 

Since then, Zahangir has been focusing on running his mother’s campaign. 

Zayeda Kahtun, Zahangir’s mother, on her campaign trail, has been emphasising the ”injustice” inflicted on her son during this election season.