Rift in Ganatantra Mancha

The conflict over leadership has culminated in the Ganatantra Mancha within just five months of its formation. The alliance came into being on 8 August as an umbrella of seven parties and organization.

ASM Abdur Rab’s JSD, Mahmudur Rahman Manna’s Nagarik Oikya, Saiful Haque’s Biplabi Workers Party, Zonayed Saki’s Ganasanghati Andolon, Nurul Haque Nur’s Gana Adhikar Parishad, Sheikh Rafiqul Islam’s Bhasani Anushari Parishad and Hasnat Quayum’s Rashtra Sangskar Andolon are the components of Ganatantra Mancha.

Anti-government parties and alliances organised three events under simultaneous movement from 30 December to 16 January. Top leaders of alliance ASM Rab, Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Reza Kibria or Nurul Haque were absent from the three events. Gana Adhikar Parishad boycotted the protest rally on 16 January. That decision created a fissure in the alliance. Many of the leaders of the alliance said the conflict over leadership has brought the division in the fore.

Biplabi Workers Party’s Saiful Haque told Prothom Alo, “Some parties are not ensuring attendance as per expectations in the rallies. We are discussing the matter among ourselves (in the alliance).”

This conflict is mainly between Gana Adhikar Parishad and other parties of the alliance. Gana Adhikar maintains that they provide most of the manpower in various political events of the alliance but they do not get proper appreciation. The rift was visible centering the Ganatantra Mancha’s sit-in on 11 January. Gana Adhikar’s member secretary Nurul Haque wanted to join the event directly from airport upon his tour abroad. Gana Adhikar leaders allege that the sit in programme was hastily ended so that Nur could not join it.

Mancha’s leader and Gana Sanghati Andolon’s chief coordinator Zonaid Saki denied the allegation that the sit-in programme was hastily finished. He said there is no scope of over estimating or under estimating anyone.”

Several leaders of the Mancha said Nurul Haque’s activities and some remarks have raised eyebrows in the alliance. Especially, some of his remarks before BNP’s Dhaka divisional rally on 10 December, his rather strong stance centering  Jamaat-e-Islami and alems, and holding meetings with controversial persons abroad have created uneasiness in the alliance.

Speaking to Prothom Alo on Monday, Nurul Haque said, “We want to leader a greater anti-government movement, and in that case, youths rose to prominence through student moment also had desire and they will be taken much further. But, we have noticed that is not happening. They want totally want to involve leftist people and that will not be acceptable to all.”

Two alliances consist of 22 parties and less presence

Two alliances were formed in December last year after BNP-led 20-party Alliance split. One of the alliances consists of 12 parties and another is “Jatiyatabadi Samamona Jote". These alliances have 21 or 22 partners since both two parties namely Islami Oikya Jote (faction) are members of both alliances. In fact, majority of the allies in this exists just in name in these two alliances, with several parties having no office at all.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, 12-party Alliance spokesperson and Bangladesh Kalyan Party Syed Muhammad Ibrahim, “The journey of a combined simultaneous movement has just started and the reality is many parties have their limitations.”

Other than these two alliances, another alliance “Sammomana Gonotantrik Jote” comprising 15 organisations was formed on 8 January. There is no political party in this alliance and these organisations arrange programmes with various pro-right eminent citizens including pro-BNP people at various places including National Press Club from time to time.

BNP standing committee member Iqbal Mahmud Hasan said, “A simultaneous movement is better than a combined movement, which is why the alliance has been broke up.”

Political analyst and former professor of Politics and Government department, Jahangirnagar University, Dilara Chowdhury said, “Big parties form alliances to make them heavier. Small parties do not have a vote bank but they have a mass appeal, which is why big parties bring the smaller ones close and the latter also get the benefit of it. BNP will have to do the main work alone.”

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Galib Ashraf and Hasanul Banna