Analysts express doubt as it entirely depended on Ershad’s personal charisma
The process of finalizing the appointment of the Jatiya Party (JaPa) chairman has begun, with an official announcement from its Secretary General Mashiur Rahman Ranga.
The announcement came on Thursday, within 48 hours of the burial of the party's founding chairman HM Ershad, who passed away last Sunday.
The appointment would be confirmed after a meeting of the presidium members, where GM Quader will get the appointment as the chairman.
Party insiders, however, said even though the process is taking place following the party constitution, GM Quader’s appointment as the new party chief might be vetoed as some presidium members have taken a stance against him, which might lead to a split in the party.
Political analyst and researchers also termed the future of the party is doubtful saying it might not survive long as the party doesn't have organizational strength.
A party senior leader willing to be unnamed said the division has become obvious even before the death of its founding chairman.
Divisions existed even during Ershad regime
Raushon Ershad went against Ershad's decision in 2007 and 2014. Just before the 11th national election held in 2018, Ershad made a move not to give party tickets to some of its leaders who were Raushon’s allies.
But the monopoly in the party continued even after the election as Ershad, the maverick former military ruler known for frequently changing his decisions, finally announced his younger brother as the party acting chief and in early April, through a statement, announced that Quader would act as the chief of the party in his absence.
Since the Jatiya Party chairman holds absolute power in taking any party decision, Raushon and some senior leaders loyal to her were worried over their future in the party.
The party insiders said senior leaders like Anisul Islam Mahmud, ABM Ruhum Amin Howladerm, Fakhrul Imam and Kazi Firoz Rashid are some of them who are known to be the Raushon’s followers.
Days after the election, many leaders known as Raushon's followers started becoming active in the party. Soon after Ershad’s second janaza took place at Parliament Plaza, some of the activists and leaders were seen chanting slogans against both Quader and Raushon.
This has made it clear that there is a division in the party, the leader said.
However, another leader, who has been made presidium member after the election, told Dhaka Tribune that although Quader was sacked by HM Ershad in March from the post of acting chairman, he regained the designation for some of the measures Ershad took to make the party stronger.
Requesting anonymity, the leader said: “Pushing in new blood to the party management and appointing GM Quader as the new acting chairman and Ranga as secretary general has sparked some hope of improvement inside the party. But unity is the only medicine for the party to stand strong. Let's see how much we do.”
After the announcement, the newly appointed JaPa chairman said: “I want to make it clear to everyone that there is no political divide in the party, and the party will be operated with unity. We are united and will remain united."
Earlier, he told Dhaka Tribune that the party would not remain a one-leader-based party anymore, rather he would try to turn it as an activist-oriented party.
Besides, initiatives would be taken to change the articles in the party constitutions that do not comply with the democratic practices inside the party.
Meanwhile former secretary general of the party Ruhul Amin Howlader said there is no scope to create rifts among the top brass of the party to keep the politics of JaPa alive in the country. If JaPa could continue its activities with wise decisions, the party would have a great future ahead.
A senior leader, who is currently inactive in the party, told Dhaka Tribune that the party is being operated just based on the personal charm of Ershad. Although being leveled as military ruler, Ershad keep the politics through JaPa alive for his negotiation skills and ability of foresight.
The party would miss this and might see the fate extinctions, he doubts.
Ranga said the top leaders of the party have faith on Quader that he would be able to keep the party united.
Will the alliance be able to influence JaPa?
Political analysts and researchers expressed their doubts whether JaPa, that has no definite ideology, organizational strength and most importantly lost the person who kept their politics alive, would sustain as a political party in the future.
They might get extinct like the party established by Maulana Bhasani or AK Fazlul Huq, as those were abolished after their death.
They said, to be alive in Bangladesh politics, a party needs an authoritarian leadership and it may be the major lacking for the party in the future. Besides, the party has internal “lack of democracy.”
Sayingthat the Jatiya Party was more of a personality-based party, researcher Dr Rounaq Jahan said whether the party could stay alive after Ershad’s death remains a big question.
There are divisions in the party, one led by Ershad's wife Raushon, while the other by his younger brother GM Quader, she added.
The distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) said JaPa's future is very doubtful.
Since 2014, the party has survived as an "opposition party," thanks to the blessings of the ruling government, she said. "The party doesn't have any ideology and organizational strength."
The future of the two factions within JaPa will depend very much on the attitude of the government towards them, she opined.
Researcher and political analyst Mohiuddin Ahmed also agreed with the fact that the role of Awami League will influence the future course of actions of JaPa.
“If Awami league wants a strong opposition, they would not give special support to any fraction rather to the whole party. But if they want only a domestic opposition, they would extend support to any one of the fractions. But whatever happened seems like there is no alternative for the party to leave the alliance they are with.”
The Awami League seems to be comfortable with JaPa than the BNP as being its opposition in parliament. So, it seems Awami League wants JaPa to be strong and keep maintaining allies with them, he added.
He however said that if the party remains united, the clash of power would continue in future.