Bangladesh Awami League (AL) is yet to finalise distribution of seats with alliance partners due to uncertainty in the opposition BNP’s joining of 11th parliamentary polls scheduled to be held in December.
The party which is running the government by managing its electoral alliance for about 10 years, told its partners that their decision on whether to contest the elections from a common platform depends on the BNP’s next move.
According to the AL’s plan, General Ershad’s Jatiya Party which is simultaneously a partner in cabinet and official opposition party in parliament, may be asked to join an expanded alliance with the AL camp, if the BNP eventually joins the ballot unlike its 2014 boycott.
The AL’s senior leaders have asked aspiring members of parliament of the party to take preparations, assuming that the BNP would ultimately take part in the elections.
“If the BNP contests the next parliamentary polls, we’ll expand the grand alliance incorporating the Jatiya Party. If they (BNP) do not come, the 14-party alliance and Jatiya Party will separately contest the upcoming polls,” AL presidium member and spokesperson of the 14-party alliance Mohammad Nasim told Prothom Alo.
Some AL leaders also said if the BNP contests the election making new alliance with Kamal Hossain-led national unity process and former president AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury’s United Front, the AL will further expand its alliance by including the religion-based parties and left parties.
If the BNP boycotts the way the party boycotted the 10th parliamentary polls held on 5 January 2014, the AL alliance partners will contest separately but with certain understanding with the ruling camp. The AL camp will make informal understanding if a faction of the BNP joins the polls, the AL leaders said.
They, however, boast that the decision on sharing seats or inclusion of any leader into the cabinet is the discretion of the AL as the major player.
Some AL leaders said based on surveys a list of 100 possible contestants from among the party’s members of parliament and ministers who can secure victory in the next elections, will be finalised soon.
About 100 new faces will also be listed for giving nomination, they said adding that senior leaders of other parties of the alliance would also be in their considerations.
The AL will finalise its nominations giving emphasis on survey results, if the If BNP contests the polls, some AL leaders said.
A top leader of another party in the 14-party alliance told Prothom Alo that they are not sure of the BNP will ultimately participate in the next polls leaving its chairperson Khaleda Zia in jail.
“If the main opposition boycotts, the importance of the alliance partners lessens. If the opposition alliance joins the polls, the Awami League’s partners may get lesser number of seats but they are given more importance... Everything depends on the sweet will of the Awami League,” the leader added.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam.