Awami League has taken up various strategies on the question of relations with Islamist parties ahead of the next general election. The ruling party has an active effort to ensure that the Islamist parties that are not affiliated with AL don’t join BNP’s movement. AL is also trying to forge relations with some Islamist parties, keeping some others under pressure. Several ruling party leaders also said they even have a plan to form a coalition of Islamist political parties..
Qawmi madrasa based organization Hefazat e Islam has some influence on certain Islamist parties. The government forged relations with Hefazat, and leaders of many Islamic parties think the government now has established a sort of control on the organization.
Some AL leaders said the Islamists have some form of influence in election politics his leads AL to keep them close. AL is trying to neutralize the parties who have an anti-government stance.
AL’s long-time allies in the 14-partry alliance, however, are dismayed at the party’s policy of appeasement of the Islamists. They allege that Islamists take various advantage due to such concession from the ruling party. Also, in many instances the government fails to control religious violence with an iron hand due to AL’s policy of appeasement. The 14-party allies cited the latest incident of violence centering an annual congregation of Ahmadiyya community in Panchagarh
Two textbooks of sixth and seventh grades were withdrawn in the face of objection of Islami Andolon Bangladesh and other Islamic parties and organisations. Earlier changes were brought in textbooks due to Hefazat’s objection.
AL and the government denied giving concession to the Islamists. But Hefazat and many other Islamic parties were seen holding discussions or meetings with the home minister in various occasions with demand of release of their incarcerated leaders and other religious issues.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan told Prothom ALo that he holds meeting with all parties including BNP and such meetings have nothing to do with forming alliance.
The minister said he thinks all political parties would take part in the next general election and which party would take which side would be clearer in the days ahead.
Sources of AL said no one has been given the charge of maintaining rapport with the religion-based parties. But home minister takes care of Hefazat and some other Islamist parties while information minister Hasan Mahmud maintain contacts with some other parties locally.
Sources of AL said no one has been given the charge of maintaining rapport with the religion-based parties. But home minister takes care of Hefazat and some other Islamist parties while information minister Hasan Mahmud maintain contacts with some other parties locally
Information minister delivered speech at the national conference of Charmoni pir’s party Islami Andolon Bangladesh at Suhrawardhy Udyan on 2 June. A BNP leader, however, was also present at the event.
Other than this, many government organisations also maintain communication with Islamist parties. When the question of inclusion of new parties in the 14-party alliance comes up, the alliance coordinator and senior AL leader Amir Hossain Amu deals the matter.
Amu broached the issue of inclusion of a political party named Islamic Front Bangladesh in the alliance meeting on 8 December. The proposal was skirted due to objection of alliance partners. Islamic Front Bangladesh speaks in favor of the government. AL brought up the proposal of inclusion of the party as the latter showed interest to join the alliance.
Jamaat and Islami Andolon are the powerhouses
AL leaders don’t see any possibility of political consensus between Jamaat and AL. Party sources said leniency towards Jamaat would harm the ruling party politically. Also, Jamaat has bitterness towards the AL since its top leaders were hanged for war crimes during the reign of the party. However, a rift seems to have been created between Jamaat and its longtime political ally BNP in recent times. Even Jamaat men have been angered by BNP. AL is willing to take this chance in the politics of vote.
Government and AL sources said they would try to bring Jamaat to the polls if BNP opts out for participating. AL is also thinking if Jamaat can be used even if BNP joins the election.
Workers Party president and one of the top leaders of 14-pary alliance Rashed Khan Menon told Prothom Alo that they are against inclusion of religion-based political party in the alliance. There can be a greater alliance centering election
Jamaat, however, was not able to carry out political activities with ease owing to government’s pressure for a long time. On the contrary Islami Andolon Bangladesh has stepped up in the political realm. As a result, BNP wants the party in the ongoing anti-government movement. A 10-member BNP delegation recently joined the annual gathering of Charmonai pir in Barishal on 17 February.
AL and the government sources said Charmonai pir’s party always maintains a centrist stance. Their contact with AL is always better. AL also maintains constant contact with the party. With now BNP on the scene, AL furthers its contact with the Islami Andolon.
A minister of the government thinks Islami Andolon would not be able to join with BNP if it does not form alliance with the AL.
He told Prothom Alo on condition of anonymity that the government has a plan to form a third coalition of Islami Andolon and some other Islamist parties. If BNP does not participate in the election, AL may extend big concessions to this coalition in the election.
Islami Andolon Bangladesh’s presidium member Ashraf Ali Akand told Prothom Alo that Islami Andolon has taken a stance in the center while AL and BNP are in two opposite position. They are on discussion to form a coalition demanding the next election be held under an all-party polls-time government. Parties other than religious parties would also be in the coalition, he added.
Other political parties enervated
10 out of 40 political parties registered with election commission are Islamists. Of them, six are Qawmi madrasah-based. These are: Islami Andolon, Islami Oikya Jote, Khelafat Andolon, Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish, Jamiat Ulamae Islam and Khelafat Majlish.
Sources from AL said Hefazat Islam was enervated after the government conducted a raid on the party’s gathering in Shapla Chattar in 2013. The government later tried to keep contact with the organisation giving them various favours. On the other hand, the government made the organisation feeble by creating many internal rifts. This has put the parties in a weaker state making them largely unable to take any decision on their own. The ruling party and the government are taking this chance.
Islami Oikya Jote of deceased leader Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini has left past its heyday and now the government maintains contacts with his son Hasnat Amini. AL even proposed to give away some constituencies to the party for bringing them to the polls. Islami Oikya Jote is yet to take or refuse this proposal of AL. The ruling party also maintains a close contact with Ataullah Hafezzi’s Khelafat Andolon.
Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish’s secretary general Mamunul Haque is incarcerated. AL leaders think the party has little leeway to stand against the ruling party under this circumstance.
Jaker Party has always been AL’s political ally. They were one of the components of AL-led Mohajote (grand alliance) formed in 2008.
Workers Party president and one of the top leaders of 14-pary alliance Rashed Khan Menon told Prothom Alo that they are against inclusion of religion-based political party in the alliance. There can be a greater alliance centring election.
He also said the influence of religion-based parties on AL has increased and suggested the ruling party to decrease such influence.