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Polarized opposition parties seek new political coalition

  • Published at 01:40 am February 5th, 2019
WEB_Jatiya Oikya Front press briefing_second dialogue with govt_07.11.2018.jpg
File photo: Gono Forum President and Jatiya Oikya Front leader Dr Kamal Hossain speaks at a press briefing at his Bailey Road residence in Dhaka following Oikya Front's second round of dialogue with the government on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 Arifur Rahman Rabbi/Dhaka Tribune

Opposition parties are trying to increase pressure on the ruling party for mid-term general polls

Bangladeshi politics is going through a transitional phase like never before.

According to opposition leaders, the polarization of the opposition parties is pronounced after the 11th parliamentary election. However, the upcoming Ducsu and upazila parishad election, including the current status of Jatiya Party, is making the opposition parties more desperate for a larger alliance to stand against the ruling Awami League party. 

The opposition leaders are also preparing to form a coalitional movement aimed at securing a mid-term general election.

Several opposition leaders have stated that the 11th parliamentary election was not fair and free and the general population of Bangladesh is not pleased about it. 

Therefore, it has become necessary for all the opposition parties to unite and take the protest to the streets so that the pressure on the government is maintained for a mid-term election.

However, despite the need for a coalition amongst the opposition political parties—BNP, Jatiya Oikya Front, Left Democratic Alliance (LDA), and Islami Andolan Bangladesh—are still battling out their differences. 

When it comes to participation in the upcoming upazila parishad election, Jatiya Oikya Front leaders and activists are divided as one faction wants to take part in the upcoming election; and another group firmly believes that a free and fair election is not possible under the ruling party and with the current election commission. 

However, the alliance is to allow its nomination-aspirants to participate as independent candidates in the upcoming upazila polls. 

Jatiya Oikya Front Steering Committee Member Abdul Malek Ratan said: "We will not take part in the upcoming polls as a party or alliance. 

"But if someone is interested to contest, we will be considerate."

In response to a question, Saiful Haque, leader of the Communist Party of Bangladesh—an influential part of LDA— said: "We are yet to decide about our participation in the upcoming upazila polls. We will come to a collective decision very soon."

The BNP-led 20-Party Alliance has also instructed its leaders and activists not to take part in the upazila polls using the party’s symbol. If anyone decides to contest the elections, he or she will have to do so as an independent candidate.  

According to opposition leaders, the upcoming upazila election will act as a litmus test [R1]for the parties and alliances that do not want to contest in the polls—ones that share the same interests as Jatika Oikya Front—ones that can form a greater alliance against the ruling party. 

Reflecting on the current proceedings, Jatiya Oikya Front convenor Dr Kamal Hossain said: "We are working on our demands. The parties and alliances sharing the same interests as us can sit with us so that we all can to come to a collective decision for the greater good of Bangladesh."

Echoing the notions, at an event held on Saturday, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said: "We will fight this injustice along with the general people of Bangladesh. We are not afraid as the people of the country are with us. 

"Awami League has lost all connection with the general people. So we now will protest this injustice with courage."

The LDA leaders however believe that all the parties need to take the streets with their demands as only then can a dialogue about a greater coalition begin.  

Jatiya Oikya Front had appointed Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury to hold dialogues with LDA, and ASM Abdur Rab to talk with Islami Andolan Bangladesh;  although these are unofficial meetings and the outcomes will be clearer after the Ducsu election. 

Conversely, according to the Jatiya Oikya Front leaders, the role of the opposition Jatiya Party is yet to be clarified as its Chairman, Hussain Muhammad Ershad, is sick and is currently undergoing treatment.

Addressing the current situation, BNP Vice-Chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu said: "It is not possible for the present government and the existing election commission to hold a free and fair election. The only way out of this is a mass revolution. 

"The general public will have to take the streets to get their, our, demands met. This government is incapable of holding a free and fair election. All the parties are aware of it. Now we need a greater coalition."

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