Main opposition in parliament still not determined

The Jatiya Sangsad buildingFile photo

It has still not been determined who will be the main opposition in the 12th Jatiya Sangsad (national parliament). After Awami League, it is the independent candidates that have won the most seats in this parliament, totalling 62. Other than four of them, the rest all have various posts and positions in Awami League committees or are directly involved in Awami League politics.

If the independents get together and form a group, they will comprise the main opposition in parliament. The leader of the opposition will be chosen from among them.

However, till yesterday, Thursday, the independent members of parliament have not discussed the matter among themselves. And if the independents do not united in one group, then the opposition of the 11th national parliament, Jatiya Party, will be the main opposition again. In that case, the party’s chairman and deputy leader of the opposition in the last parliament, GM Quader, will be the leader of the parliament.

Speaking to several independent members of parliament and four from Jatiya Party, it was learnt that that it depends to a greater extent on the Leader of the House and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina, as to who will be the main opposition. After all, 58 of the independent members are from Awami League. They await instructions from the party chief.  

The parties in parliament opposed to the government are known as the opposition. The parliamentary rules or the law makes no mention of the minimum number of members required to constitute the opposition. But there is mention of who is to be leader of the opposition.

The parliament rules of procedure states that “the Leader of the Opposition means the member of parliament who, in the opinion of the Speaker, is the Leader in the House of the Party or of the Group, as the case may be, in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength in the House.”

The same definition is given in the law pertaining to the leader and the deputy leader of the opposition.

One of the independent members, on condition of anonymity, said that it is entirely up to the prime minister as to who will constitute the opposition. That is why they do not want to say or do anything in advance.

It was clear before the election that Awami League will get absolute majority in the 12th national parliament. The question was, who would make up the main opposition. Jatiya Party wants to be the opposition this time too, but it won only 11 seats. They can be the opposition even with the support of the independent candidates. And it the independents do not form a group, then they will be the opposition anyway.

Speaking to Prothom Alo Thursday afternoon, Jatiya Party secretary general Mujibul Haque said, the newly election members of parliament have just taken oath. There have been no formal talks on this matter within the party as yet. No decision has either been made as yet as to whether the matter will be discussed with the independent members.

The members of parliament were sworn in on Wednesday. Before being sworn in, the Faridpur-4 independent member of parliament Mujibur Rahman Chowdhury (Nixon Chowdhury), told the media that after taking oath they would decide upon forming the opposition. They would form a group.

Prothom Alo on Thursday spoke to five members of parliament about the matter. They said there had been no formal talks about forming the opposition as yet. Many are not wanting to be in the opposition. They hold posts in Awami League. One of the independent members, on condition of anonymity, said that it is entirely up to the prime minister as to who will constitute the opposition. That is why they do not want to say or do anything in advance.

Barishal-4 member of parliament and Awami League leader Pankaj Nath told Prothom Alo that they were basically Awami League nominated independents. The Leader of the House and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina was their guardian. Whatever she decides will be final. They have not discussed the matter of forming the opposition as yet with her.

Mymensingh-8 member of parliament Mahmud Hasan also told Prothom Alo that he had not spoken to anyone as yet about forming a group as the opposition.

Of the 62 independent candidates this time, 58 are Awami League leaders. Outside of them, there is the Sylhet-5 member of parliament Mohammad Husamuddin Chowdhury. Speaking to Prothom Alo on Thursday, he said is remains an independent candidate. Till now he had not had any discussions with anyone over forming a group for the opposition and no one had contacted him about this.

In the meantime, the majority party in parliament Awami League had elected Sheikh Hasina as Leader of the House. The new cabinet was also sworn in yesterday, Thursday. Syed Sayedul Huq, the member of parliament from Habiganj-4, on Thursday told Prothom Alo that the matter of forming a group as opposition in the parliament may be decided upon after the cabinet is formed.    

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