Jamaat the apple of discord

Staff Correspondent . Dhaka | Update:

Jamaat-e-IslamiA coalition between BNP and Gano Forum and Jukta Front (United Front) may not become a reality because of the BNP's ties with Jamaat, despite their recent initiative and activities to forge a national unity on key issues ahead of the 11th parliamentary polls.

The BNP policymakers have not lost their hopes of a bigger coalition yet.

Should that not materialise, they say the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) will move forward with whoever stands by them.

Senior BNP leaders also say the opposition coalition will take a shape by the end of this month.

One of them said a vice chairman spoke to the leaders of Gano Forum, Jukta Front, the eight-party Left Democratic Alliance and Krishak Shramik Janata League president Abdul Quader Siddiqui to convince them to join the coalition to be led by the BNP.

However, they said the BNP leader was not fully convinced as some have voiced their concerns over a neighbouring country's uneasiness with the BNP being led by Tarique Rahman in Khaleda Zia's absence.

Another leader suggested working on the future structure of the government now, should they be voted to power.

The BNP is willing to make the maximum sacrifice to form an alliance, its leaders say. The BNP is ready to make pledges to bring qualitative changes in politics and establish good governance in the country.

They also do not have any qualms to give away a good number of seats to Gano Forum and Jukta Front, party sources said.

Eminent lawyer Kamal Hossain’s Gano Forum and Jukta Front, headed by former president AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, have agreed to work together in forming a bigger coalition.

But between the BNP and its plans to form a coalition with these two is the Jamaat issue.

Kamal has categorically said he woulkd not join the BNP if Jamaat is with them, something which is also echoed by Bikalpa Dhara leader Mahi B Chowdhury, and Jukto front spokesman Mahmudur Rahman Manna. Kamal believes Jamaat is no longer a political party as it is not a registered entity.

BNP leaders say the country has lost its democratic feature and a free and fair election is needed, which can be ensured by a non-party caretaker government and deployment of army personnel during the polls.

They wonder how Jamaat is an impediment to making this a reality.

"Jamaat also wants a free and fair election. Will that refrain us from demanding the same, just because they also want it? The people who are trying to make it an issue, have a hidden agenda," said a BNP leader seeking anonymity.

Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury, who is known to be a pro-BNP intellectual, told Prothom Alo, "The coalition will not be formed with Jamaat or the 20-party alliance. It will be with the BNP."

To this end, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, "A national unity is a must to serve the greater interest of the country. If nobody joins us, the BNP will fight this alone, and the BNP will certainly win."

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