Despite pressure from inside and outside the party to cut ties with its key ally Jamaat-e-Islami, BNP is ‘maintaining a strategic distance’ with the Islamist party, BNP insiders said.
The BNP is continuously facing pressure both at home and abroad to sever links with Jamaat, a key ally of 20-party alliance, while other components of BNP-dominated Jatiya Oikya Front are pressurising the party to cut its ties with Jamaat, which played an anti-liberation role in 1971, they said.
Talking to the daily sun, some BNP leaders said the party is not holding any joint programmes with the components of the 20-party alliance for long as part of its strategic stance on its ties with Jamaat.
Asked whether there is any possibility that Jamaat may leave the 20-party alliance, BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan on Friday told the daily sun that he did not hear any such discussion.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Thursday announced that the Jatiya Oikya Front would stage a demonstration in front of the National Press Club wearing black badges on February 6 in protest against what he said ‘the farcical general election marked by widespread vote robbery’.
He said a daylong mass hearing programme with the participation of MP candidates of the opposition coalition will begin in the capital at 10:00am on February 24 in the same issue.
After the December 30 general election, BNP formed a human chain in front of the National Press Club in the capital on January 30, protesting the first session of the 11th parliament and demanding the release of party chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail. The party did not invite its allies of the 20-party alliance.
BNP has announced that it will hold a public rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital on February 8.
After the debacle in the 11th parliamentary elections, a large number of BNP leaders and activists are raising voice for severing their party’s ties with Jamaat as they think that the party’s relationship with the Islamist organisation has tarnished its image at home and abroad.
“The international community doesn’t want BNP’s link with Jamaat. Our party’s relations with some countries are deteriorating due to the Jamaat issue. BNP can’t create its positive image at home and abroad without severing relations with Jamaat,” said a BNP leader.
Asked about their ties with Jamaat, BNP leader Mahbubur Rahman said, “I never support BNP’s relations with Jamaat.”
Some party leaders said BNP is now maintaining a strategic distance with its key ally Jamaat as none is taking its relations with the Jamaat easily.
Talking to the daily sun, a senior BNP leader said, “I know the sentiment of the grass roots about severing ties with Jamaat. We should respect the sentiment of the grassroots people. BNP is now facing problems with Jamaat. It is not an asset, but a burden on BNP.”
Asked whether BNP would cut ties with Jamaat and Oikya Front, BNP vice-chairman Barkatullah Bulu declined to make any comment on the issue.
A BNP leader said the party has a weak organisational base because of excessive dependency on Jamaat during its previous anti-government movement and recently held 11th parliamentary election.
“We’ve lost public support for our relations with Jamaat. And the international community, including India, the USA and the UK, are not developing relations with BNP for its link with Jamaat,” he said.
BNP insiders said its leaders and activists are now divided over the issue of maintaining relations with Jamaat. Most of senior leaders are in favour of severing ties with Jamaat, but another group opposes it.
Talking to the daily sun, some BNP central leaders said the party does not want to cut relations with the ally. But it is keeping a strategic distance with the Islamist party for maintaining political unity with other parties.
Despite pressure from home and abroad, BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia wants to continue ties with Jamaat as her husband and BNP founder Ziaur Rahman had taken them under BNP wings, they viewed.
A central leader of BNP said a section of top leaders of the party do not want to cut ties with Jamaat as they think the Islamist party activists have capacity to take to the streets ‘violently’ during any anti-government movement. “Besides, Jamaat has a vote bank, which will help BNP assume power in future,” he added.
He further said BNP cannot do well in street movement and election without Jamaat’s help. “BNP can’t leave Jamaat in this crisis period of the party, as it has not enough organisational strength right now to launch a strong movement alone against the incumbent Awami League-led government.”
Apparently giving a hint at not leaving Jamaat as per desire of Gano Forum, a component of the Oikya Front, the BNP secretary general at a programme recently said, “I would like to say it clearly that there’s no alternative to unity, no matter who thinks what…BNP has created a bridge between the Jatiya Oikya Front and the 20-Party for the cause of a historical necessity. It’s still necessary to maintain.”