BNP for ‘greater unity’, Jamaat and CPB in the way

Salman Tareque Sakil and Aditto Rimon
Published : 07:30, Oct 20, 2019 | Updated : 07:30, Oct 20, 2019

The BNP waged a movement for ‘greater unity’ against the ruling Awami League and succeeded in the development of anti-government alliance Jatiya Oikya Front two-and-half months before the Dec 30 national polls.
The party became more serious about the formation of greater unity after the massive defeat in the polls. The policymakers are in favour of active movement for re-election in collaboration with the anti-government parties outside of the 20-party-alliance and Oikya Front.
Although the allies have a positive attitude towards the inclusion of other parties, BNP is still unable to woo a few leftist and religious parties including Communist Party Bangladesh (CPB).
According to leaders familiar with the process, any unity under BNP leadership is impossible as long as it maintains political ties with its long-time ally Jamaat-e-Islami.
Several leaders are of the view that the alliance of the leftist parties with BNP or Oikya Front is hanging due to CPB which has been rejecting calls of unity with BNP and other parties with similar ideologies.
Ganashastha chief and JSD advisor, Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury says that those parties outside of the government are positive about greater unity.
“But CPB is the biggest obstacle here. They don’t want to join a greater unity by dragging the Jamaat issue and also stops other leftist parties from joining,” he said.
He also held CPB responsible for leftist leader Saiful Hoque not being able to join who, according to Chowdhury, is positive about the matter.
“I asked CPB what the problem was with joining given that Jamaat is not part of Oikya Front. They are basically working as an Awami League affiliate,” he said and added that a greater unity might not be possible unless BNP cuts off ties with Jamaat.
Responding to queries on the matter, CPB, Mujahidul Islam Selim said that his party is willing to join the ‘greater unity’ only if it’s done with the four Liberation War policies at the front.
“We can’t possibly form a unity to hand over the country to one robber in order to save it from another,” he told Bangla Tribune.
Although ties between Oikya Front and Jamaat seem strained visibly, many view warm relations between the leaders of the party and alliance as an ‘open secret.’
Gano Forum reportedly remains the only party in the year-old alliance to not have positive towards the Jamaat and the party’s chief Dr Kamal Hossain said, “Whenever we try to build unity, rifts are created with aid of black money.”
He told Bangla Tribune that communal division is brought to the front during these times, but, “the people won’t stand for it. Hence the government doesn’t succeed either.”
Leftist parties say that the possibility of a greater anti-government unity is still at the stage of primary discussions.
Bangladesh Workers Party General Secretary Saiful Hoque said that his party and Oikya Front allies Gano Forum, JSD and Nagorik Oikkya attend each other’s programs.
“However, there haven’t been any specific proposals from BNP or Oikya Front regarding a greater unity. Everything is still in the primary stages,” the former leftist alliance coordinator said.
Moreover, although there have been talks with religion-based with parties that are not in any alliance including Islami Andolan, Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish and Khelafat Andolan, no effective commitments have been made yet.
“We are busy with the organisational activities of the party. The recruitment process is underway throughout the country,” said Islami Andolan Secretary General Mowlana Mohammad Yunus.
He added that they are not thinking about any greater unity at the moment, but they are willing to join if anti-government parties take to the streets for a corruption-free country.
Reliable BNP sources said that the party leadership is eyeing the leftist parties including CPB joining their ‘greater unity.’
However, according to sources, CPB has strong objections to the political moves of BNP acting chief Tarique Rahman during the 2001 BNP-Jamaat regime and they want to weigh what his attitude will be in the upcoming days.
A senior member of BNP’s highest policymaking forum National Standing Committee said that since the party Chairman Khaleda Zia’s arrest in February last year, Tareque Rahman has been the sole leader.
“Given Tarique Rahman’s strong position in the organisational hierarchy, his political decisions weren’t subjected to much controversy,” he said.
He added that many of Tarique’s decision including BNP going to Parliament, announcing a vote to elect Chhatra Dal leadership amongst many others were viewed positively.
Meanwhile, Standing Committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, said, “We are trying to form a greater unity. It’s not a matter of stepping forward or backing down. We can’t force anyone to join.”
He added that they can take initiatives to resolve the existing problems in the country including corruption only if they are in the position of power.