Jatiya Party central leadership is embroiled in inner conflict. Opposing factions of the party have been countering each other over the post of chairman and other issues.
Countering a press briefing where Raushan Ershad was named as party chairman, the incumbent chairman of the party GM Quader held a press conference on Thursday, justifying why he should be the chairman as well as well as leader of the opposition in parliament.
GM Quader said that he was the chairman of the party upon directive of the late chairman HM Ershad and also in line with the party constitution. Thirteen of the party’s 25 members of parliament were in favour of his being made chairman. And based on this support, he submitted the proposal to become leader of the opposition.
Raushan Ershad, wife of JaPa founder chairman HM Ershad, has long been at loggerheads with Ershad’s younger brother GM Quader. Their conflict over party leadership is out in the open and a sharp polarisation has emerged in the party.
Differences within the party had been resolved in the past through discussion and debate, but this time the opposing sides remain inflexible, deepening after the death of Ershad.
The latest conflict emerged on Tuesday when GM Quader submitted a letter to speaker Shirin Sharmeen Chaudhury, asking to be made leader of the opposition in parliament. The very next day, on Wednesday, JaPa senior co-chairperson and deputy leader of the opposition Raushan Ershad sent a counter letter to the speaker, asking her not to accept GM Quader’s letter.
JaPa member of parliament Mujibul Huq on Wednesday said, “The leader of the opposition was selected without any meeting of the party’s members of parliament. I know nothing of the matter, nor does Raushan Ershad.”
On Wednesday, Raushan Ershad’s followers announced they would hold a press conference on Thursday.
Speaking at Thursday’s press conference, JaPa presidium member Anisul Islam Mahmud declared Raushan Ershad party chairman. He said that according to the Article 20 (2A) of the party constitution, if the chairman passes away, the senior co-chairman-1 will become chairman. Raushan Ershad is senior. He said, “At today’s press conference, I declare that Raushan Ershad will carry out duties as the party chairman.”
Speaking at a press conference two hours later, GM Quader pointed to Article 22 of the amended constitution of 2016, saying it was only natural that whoever is the head of the parliamentary party will also be the leader of the opposition. “There is no mention of holding any parliamentary party meeting in this regard,” he said, adding, “Whoever the chairman feels is competent, will be selected for the position. I spoke to the members of parliament and 15 of them supported me.” He said these 15 MPs wanted to see him as leader of the opposition and that is why he submitted the letter to the speaker.
GM Quader went on to say that this is how HM Ershad had selected the JaPa parliamentary party leader and the deputy leader of the opposition in the past. No parliamentary party meeting was held to decide these issues.
Concerning the post of JaPa chairman, GM Quader said that according to Article 20 (A) of the constitution, the chairman of JaPa can appoint or expel or replace anyone in the party.
Quader said, Ershad had issued an organisational directive, saying that his younger brother Golam Mohammad Quader would carry out the duties of JaPa chairman in his absence. “As he was unwell,” said GM Quader, “he directed me to be acting chairman. He had issued this directive before he died. He placed me in his stead to ascertain how things would be after his death.”
Quader pointed to Article 38 of the party’s constitution which maintained that the chairman’s decision would be final if any ambiguity arises. He said that after Ershad’s death, three presidium meetings were held, on 22 June, 4 July and 17 August respectively. He said on the first meeting he was unanimously greeted as party chairman. On the latest meeting of 17 August, it was also unanimously decided that he would be leader of the opposition, he said.