After the Gazipur election, a dozen or so central leaders even stayed for some time in Barishal to clear up the party's inner feuds before the city corporation elections, but they failed to patch things up. Abul Khair Abdullah, who has been nominated by the party this time, is the uncle of the present mayor Sadiq Abdullah. Sadiq Abdullah is now in Dhaka, boycotting his uncle's election. Even though a picture of the brothers Hasnat Abdullah and Khair Abdullah embracing each other appeared in the media, the party men remain divided at the grassroots.

Awami League's internal conflicts are not just in Gazipur and Barishal. The news coming in from Cumilla, Faridpur, Chattogram, Cox's Bazar, Tangail, Jamalpur, Brahmanbaria, Pabna, Dhaka and Munshiganj, does not bode well for the party. In almost all the districts, it is an open secret that the minister is opposed to the member of parliament, the member of parliament is opposed to the upazila chairman, the elected representatives are opposed to the local leaders and so on. There have even been violent clashes resulting in death in certain instances. Even the gathering organised in front of the central office in Dhaka on 7 June, resulted in a chair-throwing melee.

It was support from the youth that led to Awami League's landslide victory in 2008. The youth at the time had really believed in their commitment for change. But the youth that the government is nurturing under the banner of Chhatra League, certainly is not adding to its public support. It was during the term of this government that two top leaders of Chhatra League had to step down before the end of their terms for their involvement in extortion. Those before and after them who came to Chhatra League leadership, never tried to win the support of the students either.

Let me recount a recent incident. Samiul Islam, a residential student of Jahangirgar University's Mir Mosharraf Hossain Hall, recently staged a hunger strike on the hall grounds, with a three-point demand. The three points of his demand were for the eviction of non-students from the hall, shutting down the 'guestroom', and allocating seats for all students temporarily housed in the 'mini-guestroom'.

Samiul finally broke his hunger strike on the eighth day after the hall authorities gave them their assurance. Prior to that, the university Chhatra League leaders and activists had assaulted him. They set fire to his bed, bed sheets and pillows. They broke the intravenous saline stand next to him. Then a Chhatra League leader forcefully sent him by ambulance to the university medical centre. The law remains blind, the university administration helpless.


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