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You were involved with Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami but have formed a new party now. What’s the difference between the Jamaat and AB Party?

The basic difference is in exclusiveness and inclusiveness. We are an inclusive party. People of all thoughts, religion, thinking and belief can join and are joining our party. That is the fundamental difference of our party with some other parties. Some parties who only represent selective religious and other specific classes or groups can not be called inclusive. Also, we are not a cadre-based political party. We have decided to do welfare-based politics.

So you want to infer that Jamaat is not an inclusive political party?

Yes, because everyone can not join that party. People from religions other than Islam can become primary members of the party. But can they become Ameer (chief) of Jamaat? They (Jamaat) can answer this question better.

Is that the only difference? Jamaat is a religion-based political party, what is the ideological basis of your party?

Our fundamental ideology is establishing people’s rights. Our goal is to transform Bangladesh into a welfare state based on the three pillars of the proclamation of independence i.e. equality, human dignity and social justice.

How do you see the liberation war of 1971?

We see the great liberation war as an unforgettable national achievement, a true reflection of establishing our rights. A good citizen cannot have any qualms, hesitation, narrow-mindedness, divisiveness or hatred about the liberation war. We own the liberation war, we’ve achieved it. We think the liberation war and independence is one of the strongest foundations of our national unity. AB Party is determined to consolidate this foundation.

Did you ever speak like this when you were in Jamaat-e-Islami?

I’ve left Jamaat-e-Islami so it would be better if you don’t ask me anything about that chapter.

Jaamat is a cadre-based party. Would that be the case for the AB Party?

Not at all. Cadre system mainly exists in some religion-based parties, in some socialist and communist parties. There would be no such system in our party as we will fight to establish rights of people of all creeds. We will not work to establish any specific doctrine.

What is the reason for naming the new party AB Party or Amar Bangladesh Party? Has it anything to do with Jamaat’s opposition to the liberation war?

No. Our supporters, workers and well-wishers proposed more than one hundred names. We evaluated these and decided to select ‘Amar Bangladesh Party’ .

Who will be the political friends and foes of the AB Party?

We simply do not have any political foe. It remains to be seen if all are our friends. But the answer to this question would be determined in terms of independence, sovereignty and national interests. We want to establish people’s rights. How can we do that if we consider any specific quarter as our enemy? So, we do not have any enemies from that perspective.

Who are your friends in the international arena? Jamaat used to have a good rapport with Middle Eastern countries.

No specific country. Our relations with all would be of friendship, not of domination or slavery.

What is your stance on neighboring India?

Our relations with India would be the same. They are our neighbors. If we harbour any animosity against them, they would reciprocate with animosity. That will affect trade and both countries would stand to lose in the process.

As a new party, you must be planning to recruit workers and supporters. Who is AB Party’s target? Jamaat and Shibir?

We are targeting people from all walks of society. Important political figures, retired bureaucrats, army personnel, civil society members, business people, workers, farmers and even beggars—all are our target. We would not get a comprehensive idea about the rights of all people if we do not get people from different sectors. So, we want to form the party based on participation from all.

Will you join any alliance?

We do not have any ability or intention to join any alliance right now. Our main objective is to organise the party and mobilise public support. But we want to assure you that AB Party would not kowtow to any quarter. We would not join any alliance whimsically. We would see if that alliance wholeheartedly wants to establish people’s rights. That would be the basis of being part of any alliance.

Will you respond if Awami League calls you?

Our principle is establishing human rights. If that principle gets priority in their programmes, if their leaders show a positive attitude towards this, if we find any hope that they would strive to establish people’s rights, to restore the rights of the people, we would consider responding to their call.

On the day of the inauguration your party you said that Bangabandhu established Bangladesh and your party wants to rebuild that Bangladesh. Would you clarify this?

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was founder of independent Bangladesh. We will strive to rebuild this country by making it a welfare state. Bangabandhu laid the foundation and now it is the duty of all of us to build this nation.

Did you get any reaction from Jamaat?

We have not heard anything from them.

Pro-Jamaat intellectual Shah Abdul Hannan thinks there is no need for any new political party in the country as all types of parties—rightists, leftists and Islamic parties—are functional in the country

Shah Abdul Hannan is an intellectual, a former secretary. He has expressed his opinion from his perspective and outlook. We think that the existence of numerous political parties does not guarantee functional politics in the country. There is ample scope of forming a new political party and repairing the state.

Many of the AB Party were involved with Jamaat. What’s your evaluation of that party?

It will not be appropriate or ethical for me to make any comment on them as I have resigned from Jamaat e Islami.

But people are curious to know why you left Jamaat.

I left Jamaat out of my personal reasons. I made it clear when I left the party.

Your party’s member secretary Mujibur Rahman Monju said that you could not accept Jamaat’s role during the liberation war.

Yes, that is true. We could not accept Jamaat’s role during the liberation war. We wanted the party to apologise for their role during 1971 but unfortunately, they did not comply. People will see the difference in our activities.

Barrister Abdur Razzaq resigned from Jamaat over the party’s anti-independence role in 1971. There was a speculation that he would be with the newly formed party. How far is that possible?

He always gives us advice and support when we approach him. Time will tell if he takes up any responsible position the party.

What do you think about the prevalent condition of the country?

It is really difficult to tell what lies ahead but I see a bleak future. We will have to bear the fallout of this crisis (coronavirus) for four to five years. We must stand beside people in these difficult times.

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