‘National Unity’ will pave way for inclusive polls: Analysts

Emran Hossain Shaikh
Published : 07:45, Sep 27, 2018 | Updated : 14:58, Sep 27, 2018

FILE PHOTOThe anti-government alliance of political parties will pave the way for an all-inclusive general election, according to political analysts and commentators.
The Jukto Front, comprised of AQM Badrudozza Chowdhury-led Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, ASM Abdur Rab’s Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) and Mahmudur Rahman Manna’s Nagorik Oikya, which recently forged unity with the Jatiya Oikya Prokriya, a loose political group led by senior lawyer and Gano Forum chief Dr Kamal Hossain.
On Sept 15, Dr Kamal announced a ‘greater national unity’ from a citizens’ rally, which was joined by senior BNP leaders, including Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
However, on Tuesday, B Chowhdury’s Bikalpa Dhara Bikalpadhara told BNP that it can forget about a coalition if the Jamaat-e-Islami were to be in it.
Political commentators do have apprehensions on the future of this alliance, but say it’s a good sign as the process is the first step for an all-inclusive national election.
The BNP-led alliance stayed away from the last parliamentary election as their demand for a polls-time caretaker government was not met. The Jukto Front parties and the Gano Forum also boycotted the election.
“A coalition ahead of the election is usual in a democratic process,” said Dhaka University teacher Syed Anwar Hossain describing it as an alliance of anti-government parties.
He, however, has doubts on the new coalition’s future.
Referring to the issue of BNP having Jamaat as its ally, the History professor said, “I have doubts whether they can forge an organisational base with a little more than two months left for the polls. The leadership of this coalition is not clear yet.”
Hossain says the coalition is based on the fact that B Chowdhury and Kamal Hossain have a ‘relatively clean image’, but they do not have a votes, which is not the case for BNP, now in a crisis of leadership with party chief Khaleda Zia in jail and her son Tarique Rahman in a self-exile.
“But if the coalition stands at the end it will be a challenge for the Awami League as well as benefit it, because the ruling party wants an all-inclusive election,” he said.
Jahangirnagar University’s Professor Tarek Shamsur Rahman echoed.
“This election is very important for the Awami League as it want to ensure all parties take part while the BNP needed a way to contest in the polls, which the alliance will facilitate,” he told Bangla Tribune.
The BNP was very well aware that neither its Chairperson Khaleda nor her son Tarique can contest the election.
“They had decided not to go for the polls without Khaleda, but the ongoing process with Dr Kamal or B Chowdhury will pave a way for them,” said the International Relations professor.
It’s too early to comment on the alliance until it takes a shape, says Chittagong University’s Professor Nizamuddin Ahmed.
“It’s clear that an anti-AL coalition is being formed and the BNP wants to get on board. Besides this, the Left parties have also formed an alliance, they are not with them but the idea is same— a coalition against the ruling party,” said the public administration teacher.
Without taking names, he said, “These two individuals are reputed, but they are not a factor for the election, but still the BNP wants to join them to gather all anti-government parties in a single platform”
According to Ahmed, the new coalition is not considering waging a movement to topple the government, but wants to negotiate with it for a level-playing field in the election.
“Everyone, including the BNP, realises that there’s no option other than the election. Meanwhile, the government wants an inclusive polls, it can’t take the risk of Jan 5 style polls once again,” he said.