Apparently under pressure from both home and abroad, especially India, BNP now actively considers abandoning its 20-party alliance component Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.
A BNP leader close to party chairperson Khaleda Zia said she is now convinced that her party is not getting the due attention and sympathy from the international community, including India, and the country’s noted citizens for putting pressure on the government to go for snap polls only because of its alliance with some Islamic parties, especially the Jamaat.
She was also learned to have talked to party senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman about parting the company of the Islamist party and got a positive signal from him, the BNP leader said preferring not to be named.
He also said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the tete-e-tete with Khaleda Zia also gave her a message that BJP has no objection to deepening its ‘historical’ ties with BNP, but its has a strong reservation about Jamaat and some other Islamic parties having alliance with BNP.
“It’s now clear India wants BNP to desert Jamaat. Narendra Modi told our chairperson that BNP must clear its stance against terrorism, militancy and Jamaat through its action to get India’s support for the restoration of democracy in Bangladesh,” a BNP standing committee member told UNB, also wishing anonymity.
An influential BNP strategist who also spoke on condition of anonymity said BNP should now rethink about its alliance with Jamaat as the alliance could not play any vital role in realising their demand for a snap election.
He also claimed that Khaleda Zia shared with him her strong disappointment over Jamaat’s role in anti-government movement before and after the January-5 election, 2014.
He said he will meet Khaleda soon and advise her to abandon Jamaat and take an initiative to strengthen its ties with the Modi government. “I’ll also advise her to visit India.”
Besides, most senior BNP leaders and a section of pro-BNP professionals want the party to leave Jamaat and uphold its image of a moderate democratic party.
BNP chairperson’s adviser Shahjahan Omar at a recent discussion meeting marking party founder Ziaur Rahman’s death anniversary urged Khaleda Zia to either leave the alliance members or ask them to merge with BNP.
According to a leaked telephone conversation between BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed and ex-JCD leader Bazlul Karim Chowdhury Abed, Moudud also opposed the party’s alliance with Jamaat.
Meanwhile, president of Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh (BDB) and BNP founding secretary general AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury on Friday criticised BNP for what he said doing Jamaat-dependent politics and suggested the party to return to the politics of Ziaur Rahman for its survival.
Besides, the western countries which are vocal for a fresh election in Bangladesh also sent out messages on different occasions to leave Jamaat.
Under the circumstances, party senior leaders said Khaleda Zia this time will not make any mistake to take a firm decision on ditching Jamaat.
“It’s now the international sentiment that BNP should trash Jamaat. The issue is also now being discussed within our party. I think the party will take a positive decision to this end after a discussion it party forum,” said BNP standing committee member Lt Gen Mahbubur Rahman.
Mahbub said he does not think BNP has been benefited with its alliance with Jamaat. Instead, BNP’s association with Jamaat has created a scope for the government and others to malign BNP because of the Islamist party’s anti-liberation war image.
He also said though BNP carried out movement with Jamaat with a common goal for forcing the government to hold a general election under a non-party administration, the party’s image has got dented due to violence by the Islamist party.
Mahbub also thinks India has given them a message to quit alliance with Jamaat through its Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s remarks that India supports democracy and opposes fundamentalism.
Contacted, BNP vice chairman Abdullah Al Noman said, “BNP is a pro-liberation party. The party founder is a great freedom fighter. Jamaat’s political ideology is totally different from BNP. But we formed an electoral alliance with Jamaat for strategic reasons. Now time has come to review whether BNP should maintain its alliance with Jamaat.”
Echoing Mahbub, he said there has been a discussion within the party about severing ties with Jamaat.
Noman hoped that the party will take a prudent decision to this end taking into consideration the sentiment of the party leaders and activists and the international community.
BNP spokesman Asaduzzaman Ripon said there is no pressure on the party to ditch Jamaat.
He, however, recognised that there are different opinions among the party leaders over keeping the Jamaat in the alliance.