The so-called secular party starts politics in the name of religion
Awami League working to win over religious voters
The government is planning to build and renovate thousands of mosques and madrasas across the country to appeal to the religious spirit of the electorate ahead of the upcoming national polls.
Under the plans, 300 lawmakers will receive funds of around Tk7,885 crore from the government to upgrade 1,800 madrasa buildings of up to six storeys high in their constituencies.
Besides this, the Islamic Foundation, a wing of the religious ministry, is making progress on a project to build 1,010 new Ebtedayee madrasas as part of “Darul Arqam” – a new concept of madrasas with branches across the country aiming to spread the accurate Islamic spirit.
The government has also attached significant importance to the building of 560 model mosques and Islamic cultural centres as part of a project approved 11 months ago.
Before the most recent parliamentary elections of January 5, 2014, lawmakers received a similar injection of infrastructure funding. On that occasion, a total of around Tk6,000 crore was disbursed to develop the country’s road network.
Awami League lawmaker Mahbub Ara Begum Gini denied that the latest initiatives are an overt tactic to turn voters towards the ruling party ahead of the next elections, which are likely to be held in December.
“This is not a strategy to sway a vote bank,” she told the Dhaka Tribune. “Our government believes that religiously motivated people are under-facilitated. Our strategy is to develop all the sectors of the country including the religious community.”
A section of political analysts, however, say such initiatives will regardless have little impact on the religious vote bank as this portion of the electorate has traditionally been averse to voting for the Awami League.
“Religious hardliner groups like Hefazat-e-Islam and its aligned voters will never root for Awami League despite the fact that Awami League is not against the religious spirit,” Prof Nurul Amin of Dhaka University’s political science department said.
Another prominent political analyst, who works at a private university and preferred to remain anonymous, said the ruling party is “trying to change this mindset with the development of mosques and madrasas.”