India not standing by BNP for its Jamaat ties

Ranjan Basu, Delhi
Published : 07:45, Oct 09, 2018 | Updated : 19:48, Oct 09, 2018

This 2010 file photo shows BNP chief Khaleda Zia with the leadership of Jamaat-e-Islami at a public rally in Dhaka.Soon after the Narendra Modi-led BJP government took office in 2014, the BNP, known for playing the anti-India card in the Bangladeshi political landscape, opened initiatives to shore up with the ruling party in India.
Back then, some leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had somewhat sympathy for the BNP.
But that’s not the case anymore.
India has made it clear that it will not stand by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) ahead of the general election, likely in late December.
And the sole reason for it is, not cutting ties with its longtime ally the Jamaat-e-Islami.
“We found it very positive when the BNP shunned its anti-India stance and initiated to open relations with Delhi,” a BJP leader, who keeps tabs on Bangladesh issues, told Bangla Tribune.
“But the problem is whatever they may say, it’s clear to us now that they are not ready to cut ties with Jamaat,” said the Cabinet member before adding that intelligence inputs also suggested that.
But what exactly were those inputs?
Tarique Rahman’s Jamaat links in London
BNP chief Khaleda Zia’s son and presumed political heir Tarique Rahman has been in a self-exile in London for the last 10 years.
According to Indian intelligence sources, he maintains close relations with Jamaat leaders.
However, he has been not seen with Jamaat leaders in public recently, but has maintained links.
Tarique, the senior vice-chairman for BNP, now stands in as party chief after Khaleda was sentenced to five years in jail for the Zia Orphanage Trust graft.
He was also sentenced to 10 years in jail in the same case. He had been sentenced to seven years in prison earlier in a money laundering case.
He has been in London since he went there for treatment after being released on bail during the 2007-08 caretaker government.
BNP chief Khaleda Zia’s son and presumed political heir Tarique RahmanJamaat’s hub in the British capital is the East London mosque ‘London Muslim Centre’. Bangladeshi-origin Jamaat leaders dominate its trustee board.
Tarique has not been seen in the mosque in recent time, but has close contacts with the centre’s leadership.
Jamaat’s spokesperson in the UK Abu Bakar Molla is responsible for maintaining contacts while the BNP’s UK unit chief MA Malek is the liaison for Tarique.
Khaleda adamant on Jamaat’s 5-7% vote bank
Citing reputed confidential sources, Indian intelligence agencies say that jailed BNP chief Khaleda is adamant over securing the ‘committed votes’ of Jamaat.
According to them, Khaleda believes that the Jamaat’s vote bank will boost BNP’s winning possibility.
“We came to know that Khaleda has instructed party leaders from jail that Jamaat’s vote has to be secured. Especially, if Jamaat cannot contest with its polls symbol, then the votes will be diverted to BNP, this is what she believes and that’s why she doesn’t want to cut ties with Jammat,” said the source at Indian intelligence.
In 1991, Jamaat secured over 12 percent votes. As part of the BNP-led ally, it secured some four percent vote in the 2001 and 2008 polls.
HT Imam’s brief to Delhi
A retired bureaucrat who sits on the Awami League’s Advisory Council, HT Imam is the political affairs adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
During his recent India visit, he made it clear to New Delhi that the BNP has no strength of its own and whatever it is doing now is by riding on Jamaat’s back.
This file photo shows HT Imam, the political affairs adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, speaking at a discussion organised by Delhi-based private think-tank Observer Research Foundation in July this year.“Dhaka has made it clear to us that the BNP supporters seen on the streets are actually activists of Jamaat and (its student wing) Islami Chhatra Shibir,” said an Indian foreign ministry official, who attended the meeting with Imam.
“Jamaat is funding as well as providing people for BNP’s movement. So, it’s totally untrue that the parties have no relation,” added the official.
As New Delhi is certain that BNP is not ready to ditch Jamaat, it has decided not to stand by the party in any way.
But it’s also true that several BJP leaders had maintained that India should not put all of its eggs in one basket that is, betting on the Awami League.
However, the ruling BJP had to opt for it as Jamaat remains to be BNP’s trusted ally.