Jatiya Party (JaPa) chairman and deputy leader of Opposition in the Jatiya Sangsad (national parliament) GM Quader has been facing various risks since his firm anti-government stand came out in the open. The decision to make him leader of the opposition in parliament has remained pending though the MPs sent the letter to the speaker last week. Amid this, a new rumour has spread that Raushan Ershad, the party chairman, has been planning to replace GM Quader as the deputy leader in parliament with the party’s co-chairman Kazi Firoz Rashid.
Raushan Ershad is the widow of the party’s founding chairman HM Ershad while GM Quader is his younger brother.
The 79-year-old JaPa chairman, Raushan Ershad, is in Bangkok for the last 10 months for medical treatment and is likely to return in October, said party sources. Party’s leaders and activists have been trying to analyse and understand the course of politics in the coming days, especially before the next (12th) general elections.
They, however, are currently more interested in the steps of the office of the parliament speaker, Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, regarding the letter, signed by the opposition chief whip and the party’s former secretary general Mashiur Rahman, sent there to make him leader of the opposition in parliament. Earlier, 24 out of 26 JaPa MPs and 39 members of the 41-strong presidium meeting decided to remove Raushan Ershad as the leader of the opposition in parliament.
Speaking to Prothom Alo about this, GM Quader said, “We have been waiting. The speaker is yet to send any reply. We will wait for a few more days.”
The speaker’s decision would send a hint of the government’s attitude towards the top leadership of JaPa, said concerned people. Amid this, the rumour spread on social media about replacing GM Quader as the deputy leader in parliament with the party’s co-chairman Kazi Firoz Rashid added new dimensions in the discussion.
Speaking to Prothom Alo about this over phone from Bangkok, Raushan Ershad on Friday afternoon said, “The letter is already sent.” Pressed to elaborate, someone was heard saying something to Raushan Ershad; then she said, “I haven’t sent any letter. Why Would I do so now? I was not supposed to send any letter.”
Raushan Ershad has been accompanied by her son Saad Ershad, MP, and his wife in Bangkok.
GM Quader, however, said he was not aware of any such information that another person would be made the deputy leader of the Opposition in parliament. “But she (Raushan Ershad) doesn’t have the authority to send any such letter.”
Out of the blue, Raushan Ershad on 30 August sent a release to the media convening a council of the party though the tenure of the central committee is yet to expire. Besides, three other recent incidents have made the leaders and activists concerned.
GM Quader received a death threat in August and within a few days he sustained injuries in a road accident. His mobile phone was away snatched just on the day following Raushan Ershad’s convening the party council. There are apprehensions whether the incidents are coincidental or connected with something else. However, police on Thursday recovered the phone of GM Quader nine days after it was snatched.
JaPa sources informed Prothom Alo that Kazi Mamunur Rashid sent several messages with death threats, including a photo of a grave, to GM Quader on 5 August. Following this, the personal secretary to the deputy leader of the opposition in parliament, Md. Abu Tayab, filed a general diary (GD) with Uttara West police station on 7 August.
Kazi Mamunur Rashid acknowledged sending the photo of a grave to GM Quader. He told Prothom Alo, “A person sent this to me. I’ forwarded this not only to him, but to nearly 150 people. The objective was, we should think about the grave as our final destination.”
Kazi Mamunur Rashid was a presidium member of JaPa. He was expelled from the party for working against the party interests and discipline in 2020. For a few days after that he, along with HM Ershad’s former wife Bidishia Siddique, endeavoured to launch a new Jatiya Party. Kazi Mamunur Rashid was made the chairman of Hussain Muhammad Ershad trustee board with support of Bidisha in 2021. But now Kazi Mamunur Rashid and Bidisha are no longer together. Currently, Kazi Mamunur Rashid has become active joining Raushan Ershad’s political secretary Golam Masih.
Within a week of getting the death threat and filing a GD about this, a speedy vehicle hit GM Quader car from a side in Khilkhet on Airport Road in the capital. He sustained injuries in the incident and both the doors of his car were damaged. On the 18th day of the incident, Raushan Ershad convened a party council sending press release to media on 30 August. On the next day, his cell phone was snatched.
Speaking about this, GM Quader told Prothom Alo, “I have taken all these things as normal. But given the current situation in the country, nothing is improbable in politics anymore.”
* The report has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza