Awami League expels Zahangir again before Gazipur mayoral polls

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

Published : 15 May 2023, 01:41 PM
Updated : 15 May 2023, 01:41 PM

The Awami League has expelled former Gazipur mayor Zahangir Alam again, this time apparently for seeking to run against a party-nominated candidate in the city corporation polls.

The ruling party’s Office Secretary Biplab Barua said in a notice on Monday that the expulsion of Zahangir, a former general secretary of the party’s Gazipur metropolitan unit, will take immediate effect.

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

He was ejected by the Awami League and suspended from the post of Gazipur mayor over allegations of making objectionable comments about Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Liberation War martyrs in 2021.

The party gave his membership back under a general amnesty before its national council four months ago.

However, as soon as the 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 ‘s 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.

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.

Sensing his candidacy would be declared invalid, Zahangir sought nomination for his mother Zayeda Khatun, who succeeded in becoming a candidate.

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

After a meeting in Dhaka on Sunday, the party’s Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim said the presidium members recommended decisive disciplinary action without an option for appeal against Zahangir.

Speaking to before the announcement, Zahangir said he was not afraid of party decisions because it “needs” him for his “popularity”. “The leader [Sheikh Hasina] does what she thinks is the best.”

“I support the Awami League wholeheartedly. I can’t leave the Awami League. For my support and popularity, the party also needs me.”

In a Facebook post, after the announcement of his expulsion, Zahangir vowed to go ahead with the plan to lead his mother to win the polls, alleging that the party move was the result of a conspiracy against him.