The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is now at the final stage to forge a ‘greater alliance’ in a bid to ensure an impartial election when the nation will go to polls at the end of the year.
BNP leaders say the greater alliance may be forged under the leadership of eminent jurist and Gano Forum president Kamal Hossain who has already called for a greater national unity to restore democracy and bring change in politics and governance.
The principal opposition BNP is willing to simultaneously launch movement with AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Jukta Front (united front), Gano Forum and several left-leaning parties, according to the BNP leaders.
BNP insiders say they still hope Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh president AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, also a former president and one of the founders of the BNP, will play a leading role in the new alliance during the current crisis period of the BNP and the nation.
BNP policymakers are, however, apprehensive of B Chowdhury's joining of the greater alliance as he suddenly fell ‘ill’ the day Gano Forum leader Kamal Hossain, at a joint programme with Jukta Front, proclaimed national unity.
The BNP has decided to forge the greater alliance led by Kamal Hossain if B Chowdhury eventually does not join the process, according to the party high command.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, after returning home from the United Nations via London, has held an exclusive meeting with Kamal Hossain.
A key leader of BNP talked to the leaders of Gano Forum, Jukta Front and two left-leaning parties last week, about formation of the greater opposition alliance.
They struck certain issues including democracy, elections, voting rights and restoration of rule of law as common ground to work together, BNP leaders claimed.
However, the leaders of the other parties have an objection to Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the key components of BNP-led 20-party alliance. Gano Forum, Jukta Front and left-leaning parties will not form any alliance with the BNP, if Jamaat is there.
“The left alliance has no scope to join the new alliance if the BNP is there,” president of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) Mujahidul Islam Selim told Prothom Alo.
He said the left alliance is working to bring out the country from the grip of two parties – the AL and the BNP.
Kamal Hossian-led Jatiya Oikya Prokriya (national unity process) is trying to unite other parties outside of the ruling AL camp and its partners ahead of the national elections.
As part of the plan, the leaders of Jukta Front and Oikya Prokriya organised a campaign tour to Khulna. They planned a rally at Mohanagar Natya Mancha on 22 September.
Except Jamaat-e-Islami that opposed the country’s liberation and the AL and its partners, any other party including the BNP is invited to the rally.
A formula of polls-time neutral government may be announced from the rally, leaders of Jukta Front and National Oikya Prokriya said.
Badruddoza Chowdhury is scheduled to be the main speaker at the rally.
BNP leader Mirza Fakhrul has acknowledged receiving the invitation, saying that the party will decide on whether to join the rally of National Oikya Prokriya.
The leaders of Kamal-led National Oikya Prokriya are learned to have continued their dialogue with like-minded parties to forge a greater unity. They have held talks with six parties of the 8-party Left Democratic Alliance (LDA).
The Ganasanghati Andolan, a partner of LDA, on Wednesday afternoon held a meeting with Kamal Hossain at his residence.
“We've discussed with the National Oikya Prokriya on our proposed national charter,” Andolan’s chief coordinator Zunaid Saki told Prothom Alo.
On 15 September, the Jukta Front and National Oikya Prokriya unveiled a five-point demand and nine goals ahead of the national election. B Chowdhury was to attend the programme, but he was absent for his ‘illness’. Senior leaders of Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh (BDB) were also not present. Later a rumour of breach in the National Oikya Prokriya came to the fore.
Dismissing the rumour, BDB secretary general Mahi B Chowdhury said the Jukta Front and the Oikya Prokriya will jointly hold rallies across the country in the coming days.
Efforts are on to bring other parties, except the anti-liberation party, to the Oikya Prokriya.
Stakeholders said B Chowdhury-led Jukta Front may split if it does not join the greater unity.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (national socialist party) president ASM Abdur Rab and Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna are key components of the Oikya Prokriya. Rab and Manna joined Kamal Hossain’s tour to Khulna.
Gonoshastya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury, who is known to be sympathetic to the BNP, also joined him.
BNP leaders said they are optimistic about forging a greater alliance.
The BNP is ready to make concessions to the alliance, on matters such as distribution of seats and leadership role, the party insiders added.
At a programme in the city on Wednesday, Mirza Fakhrul reiterated the necessity of forging the national unity. “Nobody will come and rescue you so there is no alternate to the unity,” he said.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.