Jamaat-e-Islami with some of its top leaders in death row and about a dozen others standing trials over crimes against humanity has virtually become a barrier to forging the much-hyped anti-government movement.
The 20-party opposition alliance having Jamaat as a major component is led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The party Chairperson and alliance chief Khaleda Zia recently declared that they would welcome any party, left or right, to her anti-government push.
But the insiders pointed out that Jamaat itself had become a 'thorn in the throat' of the alliance with its tight-rope position over trial of its leaders for crimes against humanity during the War of Liberation in 1971.
The party is also facing a possible ban. Final verdict over its registration with the Election Commission is now lying with the Appellate Division. Therefore, the insiders feel, the party now is not in a position to employ its full strength for the anti-government agitation.
Meanwhile, like the 20-party alliance, a section of the left parties also feel it necessary to forge a greater platform for a strong movement against the government for realising the demand for an 'acceptable election' under a non-party administration. But, according to sources, those left parties will not join hands with BNP until Jamaat remains in the alliance.
In this backdrop, political analysts see thin prospects of a massive anti-government movement. They also referred to the distance that has developed between the Jammat and BNP over the latter's silence on ICT verdicts, especially no word of condolence after the death of former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam as his son regretted publicly.
BNP sources said they would continue anti-government movement taking existing friends in the 20-party alliance for the time being and would try to expand it gradually until tenure of the present government nears to an end.
Political analysts feel without Jamaat's active participation, forging a strong movement by BNP at this moment is a distant possibility. According to sources, an anti-government platform comprising a set of pro-liberation parties including Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Bangladesher Smajtantrik Dal (BSD), Ganoforum led by Dr Kamal Hossain, Nagarik Okkya led by Mahumudur Rahman Manna, Krishak-Sramik League led by Kader Siddique and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rob) may emerge shortly.
Both the alliances may go for simultaneous movement, if a common platform is not floated, insiders said.
JSD President ASM Abdur Rab said, "Country's politics is going through a crisis due to uncompromising stance and confrontational politics of two big parties. The crisis repeats every time when government changes. Third political power needs to emerge to free the nation from it."
BNP, though not seriously, is trying to negotiate with these parties to bring them under a common banner. The effort will be strengthened in the coming days, a number of its leaders said. Acting Secretary General of BNP Mirza Fakhrul reiterated their efforts to expand the anti- government alliance would continue.
"We have not ceased to try to expand the alliance. Negotiations with various parties are going on," he told The Daily Observer on Monday. He did not disclose the names of the parties now in talks with BNP. "You will know it in time," he said.
According to sources, BNP directly, or through some other parties, discussed with CPB and the other parties the formation of a greater alliance. The parties, however, set the precondition for cutting off ties with Jamaat, which was not immediately feasible for BNP.
BNP considers Jamaat more reliable than other parties. Jamaat's cadre-based organisational strength and dedicated mindset against the present government is a plus point. But strong distaste of a large majority against Jamaat appears to be a burden on them.
Noted journalist and political analyst Amanulla Kabir does not see the possibility of a greater alliance or massive anti-government movement just now. "Nothing will happen immediately. It will take time," he told The Daily Observer on Monday.
He said, "A distance between BNP and Jamaat is becoming visible. The party did not support Jamaat's hartal when its leaders were condemned to death. BNP did not even console the death of Ghulam Azam."
He said, "The party might have realised the sentiment of the new generation. It may reset its position in the mainstream of the political sentiment derived from the country's War of Independence."
"Jamaat is in trouble, as its leaders are being tried. The fate of the party is also uncertain. But it is still well-organized and has the possibility to regroup under a different name, if bannned," Amanulla Kabir said adding, "The big parties will consider Jamaat a burden in future."