All parties, during discussions with BNP leaders, have agreed not to partake in any election under the incumbent government. BNP is making utmost effort to build a greater political alliance out of this initial consensus, said the leaders.

According to sources, the party is likely to gear up its efforts from next week and a decision regarding the issue might be taken in the upcoming meeting of its standing committee.

Meantime, five political parties and two organisations, most of them in discussion with BNP, have held a meeting to create a new political platform ahead of the upcoming election. The parties are Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), Nagarik Oikya, Ganosamhati Andolon, Gana Adhikar Parishad, and Biplobi Workers Party while the organisations are Bhashani Onushari Parishad and Rashtro Samskar Andolon.

Among them, JSD, led by ASM Abdur Rab, and Nagarik Oikya, led by Mahmudur Rahman Manna, are members of BNP-led alliance Jatiya Oikya Front. The new platform is expected to disclose their plan of action following a meeting slated for 23 May.

The development drew mixed reaction from different anti-government parties.

Mahmudur Rahman Manna told Prothom Alo on Friday, "We have initiated this political front with the aim of building a greater unity. However, this is under no circumstance a replacement of the BNP-led alliance.”

Meanwhile, the BNP leaders said that they adopted a positive stance to the process of new political platform by some parties. In this case, the only thing to take in consideration is whether the aim and purpose of their activities are same or not.

Leaders of the proposed platform assured the BNP that they all agreed on refraining from elections under the current government. They even underscored the need for a coordinated movement with all anti-government forces for an acceptable election under an interim government.

BNP maintains a safe distance from Jamaat-e-Islami, one of its major allies in the 20-party alliance, due to various political issues. Its relations with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Bangladesh Kalyan Party are also strained.

There are good relations between BNP and the LDP faction led by Abdul Karim Abbasi and Shahadat Hossain Selim. In the latest development, more than 200 leaders and activists left the Oli Ahmad-led faction and joined the opponent group on Thursday, putting Oli Ahmed in an awkward state in the 20-party alliance.

The BNP leaders think that an unofficial consensus has been evident among the anti-government parties under a common goal – no election under the current regime. The policymakers are formulating an action plan to consolidate the goal, they said.

Iqbal Hasan Mahmud, a member of BNP standing committee who is engaged in the process of forming a greater alliance, told Prothom Alo on Friday that all are moving towards a national consensus thanks to the discussions they held with the political parties.

All are now saying that no more election under this regime. When all parties have reached a consensus on the core issue, the rest will be done soon, he said.

According to sources concerned, the BNP would make a political commitment or agreement with the parties for a credible election under a neutral interim government and repairing the state mechanism in the post-election period.

Centering the agreement, a greater unity will be established among the anti-government parties and this is why the former anti-government alliances were kept defunct.

However, a senior leader of Oikya Front told Prothom Alo that it is yet to be clear how BNP wants the unity and whom they want in it.

*** This article first appeared in the print and online version of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Misbahul Haque