Greater National UnityBNP set for negotiations with Jukto Front-Oikya Prokriya

Salman Tareque Sakil
Published : 00:07, Oct 05, 2018 | Updated : 15:34, Oct 06, 2018

From its Sept 30 rally at the Suhrawardy Udyan, the BNP rolled out its 7-point demands, which are similar to the 5-point demands announced by Dr Kamal Hossain from its citizens’ rally on Sept 22.After a series of public events, AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Jukto Front, Dr Kamal Hossain-led Jatiya Oikya Prokriya and the BNP are set to hold talks next week over what leaders said to lock in joint programmes to press their demand for a free, fair and inclusive national election.
In August, Bikalpa Dhara chief Chowdhury’s Jukto Front forged a ‘greater national unity’ with the Jatiya Oikya Prokriya, a lose political platform led by Gano Forum chief and senior lawyer Hossain.
The BNP is in talks with joining them, but Bikalpa Dhara has made it clear that the party has to ditch its long-time trusted ally Jamaat-e-Islami if it wants an alliance.
Ahead of the meeting next week of the three political platforms, there is still another issue to be resolved, according to people familiar with the matter.
Before any kind of alliance with the BNP, the Jukto Front wants issues like the number of candidates as well as a balance of power while forming a government resolved in black and white, they said.
The talks have been stalled as Dr Kamal Hossain is abroad. He is expected to return by Sunday, after which the talks to finalise all the issues will be held.
“It’s important for us to get a clear idea what the BNP means by a balance before an alliance,” a Jukto Front leader, on condition of anonymity, told Bangla Tribune.
Meanwhile, the Jukto Front has nominated Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna for the talks with the BNP.
“We want a balance of power to avoid another dictator in future paving the way for democracy in Bangladesh. And the talks are to chalk out a way to achieve it,” Manna, a former Awami League leader, told Bangla Tribune.
From its Sept 30 rally at the Suhrawardy Udyan, the BNP rolled out its 7-point demands, which are similar to the 5-point demands announced by Dr Kamal Hossain from its citizens’ rally on Sept 22.
Senior BNP leaders led by Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir joined that rally..
Both of the platforms demanded neutral polls-time government, dissolving parliament and balance of power among the parliament, prime minister and president.
According to leaders of political platforms, one other issue is to be resolved that whether the parties will go for joint programmes or separate but simultaneous programmes.
Sources at the BNP said, a small faction opts for separate programmes, but the majority backs joint programmes.
Leaders of Jukto Front and Oikya Prokriya are for joint programmes with the BNP.
However, statements by BNP leaders Mirza Abbas, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy and Moazzem Hossain Alal during the Sept 30 rally ‘undermining’ potential allies disappointed Jukto Front and Oikya Prokriya.
A highly-placed source in the BNP confirmed that the party’s senior leaders, including acting chief Tarique Rahman are not happy with the statement by the three leaders.
A BNP leader, who is a part of the party’s diplomatic relations wing, said on condition of anonymity that international community had also their eyes on the rally and that their observations included statements by Mirza Abbas, Gayeshwar and Alal.
The BNP, however, officially told its potential allies that the statements were an effort to spruce up supporters in the rally and that the leadership is sincere about the alliance.
“Speeches by some petty leaders are no issue. The point is that the BNP now wants to open talks to form an alliance,” pro-BNP intellectual Zafrullah Chowdhury told Bangla Tribune.
BNP’s announcement two days of programmes during its public meeting at Suhrawardy Udyan apparently created some confusion amid a general consensus of launching joint programmes.
“That (joint programmes) was actually the plan, but since a public rally demands an announcement as a strategy, we rolled out two initial programmes,” Jamiruddin Sircar, a member of BNP’s policymaking National Standing Committee Member told Bangla Tribune.
A senior BNP leader, who sits on the same party forum with Sircar, said on Thursday that they have held an informal discussion over the process of an alliance with the ‘greater national unity’.
“The BNP is fully prepared to join the national unity. What remains to be decided with Jukto Front and Oikya Prokriya is the process — whether forging an official alliance with joint programmes or an electoral coalition with separate programmes. Nothing has been finalised,” he told Bangla Tribune.