Silent rise of Islami Andolan Bangladesh in ballot-politics

Salman Tareque Sakil, Chowdhury Akbor Hossain
Published : 02:00, May 19, 2018 | Updated : 23:09, May 19, 2018

Symbol of Islami Andolan BangladeshIslami Andolan Bangladesh’s ‘move alone policy’, rejecting the two main alliances led by top two parties, is bringing fruits at last, as the party’s performances in several city corporation polls held recently show a sharp rise in number of votes bagged by the party candidates.
The IAB, founded more than three decades ago, has made a continuous progress in local polls over the past three years. Late Maolana Syed Muhammad Fazlul Karim, pir of Charmanai, established the party on March 13, 1987.
In the recently held Khulna city polls, the party candidate got more votes than Jatiya Party, the sitting opposition in the parliament, securing third position with 14,363 votes while JP’s runner got 1,500 votes only.
Mentionable, IAB also secured the third-highest number of ballots in Dhaka South and North, Narayanganj, and Ranpaur city corporation polls.
Terming the recently-held local government polls unfair, IAB Amir Sayed Rezaul Karim said, “People could have seen the genuine face of the party’s popularity had there been fair polls.”
Commenting on politics of ballot, the IAB Amir said, “People want freedom from the incumbent oppressive and autocratic ruler. In their frantic search for a peaceful society, the people are not being able to find out any alternative solution. That’s why they are stretching their hands to an Islamist party like us. They are joining the islamist movement by growing day by day.”
“People are showing more interest to IAB as they found no alternative,” claimed the Pir of Charmanai.
Unlike other Islamist parties, IAB has been mobilizing its organisational capacity across the country. Its founder late Fazlul Karim was a popular and well accepted figure all over the country. He set up organisational units in all the 64 districts.
Citing IAB’s ‘significant rise’ in Rangpur city polls, Sujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumder said, “It could happen because day by day we are showing more leniencies towards religion. Religion has becomes an important factor in many of our lives.”
The civil society member, however, is doubtful whether this tendency influenced polls or will do so in future.
“As AIB is a ‘pir-based party’, its number of followers is proportionally higher. Specially, it has more acceptances among the qwami maddrassa-educated population, and the devotees of Dewband Pir here in Bangladesh,” argued a left-leaning analyst on anonymity.
He said the party is gaining popularity among the working class, because there is no genuine labour-oriented party in the country. The average huge gap in number of votes between IAB and its nearest rivals in those city polls shows the party’s increasing working class base. But there is no possibility for the party of capturing power single-handedly in near future.
“A large number of people in Bangladesh are the followers of the Pir of Charmanai. Previously, they voted for Awami League or BNP candidates, but now they are opting for their own party leaders being disgusted by the wrongdoings of the top two parties,”, the analyst said, adding that there is still a huge gap between the vote banks of IAB and Awami League or BNP.
Speaking about the organizational capacity, IAB Central Publicity Secretary Moulana Abdul Kaiyum told Bangla Tribune, “We have organisational units even at union level. Each district has a committee that covers all thanas.”
There are over 1100 committees covering nearly 80 percent of UPs across the country and IAB is now working on ward-level, according to the leader.
Sources form IAB’s publicity wing said that it has a total of five Union Parisad chairmen – three won on party’s ticket and two on party-backing.
Speaking on the party’s plan for next parliamentary polls, the Publicity Secretary said, “We will contest in the next general election alone, and have finalised candidates in all 300 parliamentary seats.”
But the party, he added, may form alliance with like-minded parties if situation demands.