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What are Awami League’s plans for the next election?

  • Published at 01:01 am July 21st, 2018
The Awami League is trying to bring all the registered political parties, who are not members of the 14 party alliance, to the polls <strong>Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune</strong>
The Awami League is trying to bring all the registered political parties, who are not members of the 14-party alliance, to the polls Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Awami League insiders say that they will also try to rope leftist parties, such as the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), and the Socialist Party of Bangladesh (SPB), into its alliance

The ruling Awami League is preparing for the next election and considering the possibility of BNP’s participation.

Awami League insiders say that they will also try to rope leftist parties, such as the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), and the Socialist Party of Bangladesh (SPB), into its alliance.

Political parties who believe and uphold the spirit of the Liberation War will also be allowed to join the alliance. Apart from them, several Islamic parties will join the grand alliance, an Awami League presidium member said, declining to be named.

It is, however, unclear whether former military dictator HM Ershad’s Jatiya Party, which is currently the main opposition in Parliament, will join the Awami League or go solo in the polls in the event that BNP contests the election.

The grand alliance

Sources say the Awami League is trying to get the CPB to join its election-time grand alliance. The leftist party was part of the Awami League-led alliance in the 2008 parliamentary election. But later, the party quit the alliance and refused to rejoin it.

A number of senior Awami League leaders, who once had ties with the CPB and leftist politics, have reportedly been instructed by the ruling party’s top brass to build a very good relationship with the CPB—to bring it into the alliance.

CPB and Awami League leaders took part in co-organized Iftar parties and reportedly discussed the possibilities of forming an alliance and the CPB’s role within it.

An Awami League presidium member said the CPB has good ties with a number of other leftist parties.

“If CPB joins the grand alliance, then a few other parties will also join us. This will ensure Awami League’s victory in the upcoming election,” he said, declining to be named.

The Awami League is trying to bring Oli Ahmad into the election-time government. Sources claim that Oli initially agreed to join.

Apart from them, former BNP leader Nazmul Huda and Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Janata League President Kader Siddiqui may join in the alliance, Awami League insiders said.

When asked about the grand-alliance, Awami League presidium member and 14-party alliance spokesperson Mohammed Nasim said any party believing in, and upholding, the spirit of Liberation War, can join the grand alliance.

Going solo

The Awami League and its allies will contest the election on their own if the BNP chooses to boycott the next polls—so that the election is participatory.

The ruling party has already instructed its alliance members to prepare to participate in the election under their own banners, an Awami League joint general secretary said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

If the parties take part in the election on their own, the Awami League will also try to bring all the registered political parties, who are not members of the alliance, to the polls.

Senior ruling party leaders say the Awami League has already chalked out poll plans in case the BNP boycotts it.

New AL-backed Islamic alliance

Several Islamic parties are planning to form an election-time alliance – People’s Democratic Alliance – under the supervision of the Awami League.

“If the BNP sits out the next election, then the new alliance will participate in the polls separately. But if the BNP participates, then we will take part in the election as Awami League’s alliance partners,” a senior leader of Bangladesh Islami Oikya Jote told the Dhaka Tribune.

Sources say the alliance might be formed with 10 Islamic parties, in the last week of July.

Islami Oikya Jote chief Misbahur Rahman Chowdhury said after forming the alliance, the alliance leaders will meet Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina.

He claimed that the alliance will work with the support of Awami League.

Awami League Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman said: “Awami League has always believed in participatory elections. We believe the next election will be participatory and fair.”

He continued: “We do not believe that Khaleda Zia’s participation in the next election is mandatory for a participatory election.

“There are 41 registered political parties. The BNP is a big party but their participation, or boycott, of the polls will not make a difference—and Bangladesh’s development partners know that.”

Double-edged sword for BNP

The BNP is in a tight spot. It has no representation in parliament—after the party sat out the 2014 election demanding supervision by a non-party neutral caretaker government.

In February, BNP chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia, and her son Tarique Rahman, were convicted of corruption and sentenced to jail. The BNP claims the case is politically motivated.

Tarique has lived in London since 2008. Khaleda was sent to jail. Tarique has been made the acting chairperson of the BNP.

BNP leaders have been hinting at contesting the upcoming election. The party will try to use Khaleda’s incarceration to gain the sympathy of voters.

It has been nearly 10 years since the BNP has been out of office. The party has failed to mobilize large street protests in recent years and has failed to materialize a popular movement. The registration of its main ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, expired, and the party cannot contest the polls.

Political observers say the BNP’s victory in the next election is very unlikely. However, if the party opts to boycott the election again, its political future might be in jeopardy—as it will lose the Election Commission’s registration as a political party.