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Dhaka Tribune

Tug of War in JP: An Explainer

Update : 20 Jan 2016, 07:41 PM

Internal strife in the Jatiya Party, which is officially the opposition in parliament, has burst out into the open amid a power struggle between founder and chairman Hussain Mohammad Ershad and his wife, Raushan Ershad, the head of JP’s parliamentary party.

The infighting began on Sunday when HM Ershad appointed his young brother GM Quader as co-chairman. The party’s MPs rejected the move and Secretary General Ziauddin Bablu announced Raushan Ershad would lead Jatiya Party as acting chairperson. HM Ershad swiftly replaced Bablu with loyalist Ruhul Amin Hawlader, but the party remains deeply divided.

What is the significance of making GM Quader co-chair of JP?

Former military dictator HM Ershad has been concerned about losing control of the party he founded as Raushan Ershad’s faction, consisting of the majority of the party’s MPs, becomes more and more powerful. Raushan and Ziauddin Bablu are considered to be close to the ruling Awami League. The appointment of GM Quader is an attempt to take back control of the party. It also means that Ershad wants his brother, not his wife, to be his successor as head of JP.

Has Jatiya Party split and is Raushan now the head of her own party?

Jatiya Party has not formally split and HM Ershad insists he will not allow the party to be torn apart. But he is in a weak position since most MPs are in Raushan’s group which allegedly enjoys the backing of the government. The party was divided along the same lines before the parliamentary elections in January 2014. Ershad and his brother GM Quader decided to boycott the elections while Raushan and Bablu’s faction announced they would join the polls. In the end, Ershad was forced to give in.

What is significance of Ershad saying he won’t act as PM special envoy?

HM Ershad has said that Jatiya Party is losing its way since supporters are questioning how the party can sit in the opposition benches but at the same time be represented in the cabinet. The JP chairman has not said that he will resign as special envoy to the Prime Minister. Instead, he says, he will ask the PM to release him.

Does JP retain any popularity?

JP’s popularity has fallen sharply, even in its strongholds in the north of the country, something HM Ershad commented on when he called on the party to change direction. In the recently held local government elections, JP won only one municipality out of 76 contested.

What is JP’s organizational strength?

Jatiya Party has gradually lost its organizational strength, even in Rangpur division where it has been traditionally strong. Although the party retains a presence in most districts, its weakness was clear in the municipality elections in December. Party insiders say Ershad has become deeply concerned that JP is being seen as nothing more than a B-Team of the ruling party. 

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