BNP-Jamaat distance narrows, but no simultaneous programmes now

Flags of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami

The distance between Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami has narrowed a little following BNP expressing condolence over the death of Delwar Hossain Sayedee, but the BNP still maintains its stance on the strategy to avoid Jamaat during anti-government movements ahead of the national election whereas Jamaat continues to wage movement as its own.

However, it is yet to be ascertained whether the BNP-Jamaat will once again take to the streets together in this new context that arose after the death of Delwar Hossain Sayedee. Reliable sources of both parties said no meetings or talks were held between them. As a result, is not clear yet whether Jamaat will join the anti-government simultaneous movement.

The ouster of the ruling Awami League government is the goal of the movement of both BNP and Jamaat, but this time BNP is sidestepping Jamaat in the anti-government movement. The 20-party alliance split as part of it, and many new alliances emerged, but Jamaat joined none of them.

The BNP held no formal or informal talks with Jammt on the simultaneous movement and programmes either, and Jamaat felt a little offended. Jamaat, however, joined the simultaneous movement at the beginning but backed off when BNP issued no statement after the arrest of Jamaat ameer.

Regarding this, a central assistant secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami told Prothom Alo on Monday that people want all opposition parties altogether to oust this government. For this reason, those who should play a role and who aspire to come to power must move forward to unite everyone.

Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee, who was sentenced to a life term imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed in 1971, died on the night of 14 August. Though BNP never expressed condolence over the execution and deaths of several top Jamaat leaders convicted of crimes against humanity, the party condoled the death of Delwar Hossain Sayedee. Speculations are rife that BNP condoled the death of Delwar Hossain Sayedee on the political equation of its one-point movement and in the context of the next national election.

BNP leaders, however, said they considered Delwar Hossain Sayedee a renowned Islamic scholar other than his political identity, which is why BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman and secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir mentioned neither the political identity of Delwar Hossain Sayedee nor the name of Jamaat-e-Islami in the party’s condolence message. BNP followed a strategy here.

Top leaders of Jamaat observed BNP effectively maintained a strategy to avoid Jamaat after the 2018 election and BNP leadership has taken this strategy mainly in a wish to satisfy a certain country. Splitting the 20-party alliance, and cutting off regular communication with Jamaat is part of that strategy, but the goal of BNP’s strategy has not succeeded as yet.

Rather the news of India’s diplomatic message to the US on behalf of the Sheikh Hasina government published in Indian media caused severe discomfort in the BNP. Some people also said when a unity process was about to come close among all quarters including BNP and Jamaat at the final phase of the anti-government movement, at that time the Indian media published such news in a bid to foil this unity process and cause susceptibility among BNP leadership.

BNP leaders decline to comment.

Jamaat nayeb-e-ameer Syed Abdullah Muhammad Taher, however, said, “Jamaat is a democratic and moderate party, but it is unfortunate that the neighbouring country maintains a misconception about Jamaat based on unjust and ignorance. We think the neighbouring country’s imperialist thoughts, interference and blind support to a certain political party will arise regional insecurity.”

Jamaat leaders said they think BNP has very less possibility to foster its ties openly with Islamist parties including Jamaat. As a result, the BNP has fewer options to talk to Jamaat formally or announce the simultaneous movement with this Islamist party. In this case, Jamaat may take to the streets on the same day with different programmes to press similar demands.

Jamaat central working committee member and Dhaka city (south) secretary Shafiqul Islam Masud told Prothom Alo, “Jamaat will play roles in light with people’s expectations changing the ongoing gradual programmes as much as it is necessary.”

However, several policymakers of BNP told Prothom Alo, BNP along with various parties and collations wants to see a final result of the movement on the resignation of the government this time ahead of the election, and in this process, the BNP has called all other anti-government to take to the streets.