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Dhaka Tribune

JaPa’s role stirs debate in parliament

Update : 10 Feb 2014, 09:29 PM

Usually, the treasury and the opposition benches debate in parliament, but the House saw an unusual debate yesterday involving two opposition groups – the official opposition Jatiya Party and the “opposition group” of 16 independent MPs.

The independent MPs elected in the 10th parliament formed the group with the commitment of playing the role of the opposition.

Rustom Ali Farazi, an independent MP from Pirojpur, questioned the role of the Jatiya Party as it had the opposition leader in parliament and three ministers in the government.

He said there was no example of such government and asked the prime minister to explain the nature of the government – whether a grand alliance government or a national or a consensus government.

State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque, a JaPa MP, sharply reacted to the speech, saying the party knew its role better than the independent MP.

He said JaPa would walk out of the House protesting the government’s “anti-people” role and “resign from the cabinet” if necessary.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Opposition Leader Rawshan Ershad were not present during the unscheduled debate after the House resumed business after the Maghreb recess with Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.

Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury supported JaPa, saying the opposition party did not mean a “party opposing the government for the sake of opposition.”

Farazi in his speech said according to the Westminster form of government, a party could in no way be the opposition if it joined the government.

“The Jatiya Party says it would support the government’s good moves and oppose the bad decisions. But what would be its role in passage of bills?” said the former JaPa MP.

He said article 70 of the constitution barred JaPa from going against the government as it had representatives in the cabinet.

“In case of doing so, it will lose membership. There is confusion [within JaPa] for having stakes both in the treasury and opposition benches,” Farazi said, adding that they could not explain to people what sort of government it was.

He said if JaPa and the independent MPs played the role of the opposition, parliament could have been more “lively and effective.”

Mujibul Haque said Farazi had joined the BNP and was now an independent MP. “He should not worry about article 70. Is there any article in the constitution that says an opposition party cannot be in the government?”

He said JaPa had taken part in the poll with party chief HM Ershad’s consent and decided to be in the opposition and the government considering “special circumstances.” The party had joined the “government of consensus” to help the PM, he said.

“Similarly, we as the opposition will take any tough decision for the sake of democracy and the people. We will resign from the cabinet, if necessary. We will walk out of the Sangsad and return. Unlike in the past, we will not boycott parliament,” Mujibul said.

Referring to the opposition BNP of the ninth parliament, he said: “What is the meaning of having an opposition, the leader of which attends only 10 out of 418 working days?”

He said JaPa, which had never boycotted parliament, would not be an opposition that stayed away from the assembly while taking allowances and other state facilities.

The debate ended after Matia Chowdhury supported JaPa’s position. She also thanked Farazi for raising the issue in parliament.

Hazi Md Selim, another independent MP, in his unscheduled discussion demanded legal actions against the Chhatra League activists involved in the attacks on Rajshahi University students.

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