Sources say the leftist parties are unwilling to join the ruling party ahead of the national polls
The Awami League has moved to counter the possible participation of BNP in the next parliamentary elections by making allies out of the leading leftist parties.
Awami League aims to either have the leading leftists parties join the grand alliance it leads before the polls, or at least have them participate in the elections under the coalition’s banner, according to sources.
However, leaders of several leftist parties have said that they have no plans to join the ruling party or its alliance yet, as they believe a free and fair election under the current Awami League-led government is impossible.
On Tuesday, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader as part of their initiative made a surprise visit to the offices of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) in Dhaka and called Socialist Party of Bangladesh’s General Secretary Khalequzzaman over the phone.
Asked about his visit and phone call to the leftist leaders, Obaidul Quader said that such polarization was “normal” ahead of the national polls.
“Scenarios may change before the election (so) it’s time to find out who can be our allies,” he said. “But we will have to wait for a while to figure that out.”
Sources in both parties said Obaidul used his visit to CPB office to meet with the party’s president, Mujahidul Islam Selim, and general secretary, Md Shah Alam, and to discuss the present political situation, quota reform movement, the upcoming parliamentary election, and a possible political alliance.
SPB sources said the ruling party leader also talked with Khalequzzaman about the same issues.
Awami League’s initiative comes several days after eight leftist parties - including CPB, SPB and Bangladesher Biplobi Workers Party - launched a new platform styled “Left Democratic Alliance” (LDA) to strengthen the alternative political force against bad politics.
CPB had participated in the 2008 general election as a member of the Awami League-led grand alliance, but later left the coalition and refused to rejoin.
Awami League had tried to persuade CPB to join its 14-party alliance and take part in the 2014 national polls, but CPB elected to boycott the election.
Now, the ruling party top brass has directed some leaders, who once had ties with leftist politics, to rebuild a good relationship with CPB and other leftist parties, and try to eventually bring them to their side.
According to sources, Awami League is also trying to bring in Oli Ahmad, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and he apparently has shown positive interest.
Apart from them, former BNP leader Nazmul Huda and eight other parties have also reportedly met Awami League leaders to join the ruling party-led election-time alliance.
What LDA wants
Despite the ruling party’s initiative, the Left Democratic Alliance leaders are unwilling to join the Awami League-led coalition.
CPB President Mujahidul Islam Selim recently said that they did not float the new alliance to get the share of power “as it was not based on votes only”.
Asked whether the alliance would join the next polls, he said no election would be free and fair under the current regime, and they launched the new platform to wage a movement against farcical polls.
"We will join or boycott the polls depending on the situation," he said.
However, a member of the CPB Central Committee told the Dhaka Tribune on the condition of anonymity that they had no plans yet to join Awami League or any other political party before the election.
The LDA’s demands include the reconstitution of the Election Commission and reformation of the election system before the schedule of the national polls is announced.
Biplobi Workers Party General Secretary Saiful Haque, who is also the coordinator of LDA, was more direct with his take on the matter, saying their alliance’s agenda was “against the government and the existing political structure”.
“There is no possibility that we will join Awami League and Obaidul Quader’s surprise visit to CPB office is just aimed at confusing the people,” he said.