Islamic parties want to be factor in next polls

Mohammad Al Amin

8 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

The Islamic parties in the country want to be a factor in the next parliamentary elections slated to be held at December-end this year, making alliances with big parties. 

 Talking to the daily sun, leaders of some Islamist parties said their parties always play role in country’s electoral politics.  

The big political parties plan before every election to utilise the vote bank formed by Alem-Ulamas (Islamic scholars) across the country, they added. 

The number of Islamic religion-based political parties and groups has been increasing in Bangladesh day by day.  

And these Islamist parties want to show their existence formally in the country’s political arena through joining different alliances ahead of the next parliamentary polls, sources at Islamist parties said.  

Though these Islamist parties have been working in the country for decades, their number has increased remarkably in the last few years and they are also participating in parliamentary polls regularly.  

Apart from the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, which was against the country’s liberation, more than 50 religion-based Islamic political parties and groups, including around 10 registered Islamic political parties, are active in Bangladesh now, political experts said.  

There are 12 Islamic parties among 40 parties registered with the Election Commission. They are Bangladesh Tarikat Federation, Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan, Bangladesh Muslim League, Jamiat-e Ulama-e Islam Bangladesh, Islamic Front Bangladesh, Islami Oikya Jote, Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish, Islami Andolan Bangladesh, Bangladesh Islami Front, Khelafat Majlish, Bangladesh Muslim League-BML and Zaker Party, the political experts said.

Of the 12 parties, only three- Bangladesh Tarikat Federation, Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish and Bangladesh Islami Front – joined the 2014 polls, fielding only six candidates, they added

 Sources said the parties and groups based on Islamic religion this time are trying to expose their existence formally by forming new alliances and joining existing major political alliances of the country. 

 They said already many Islamist parties and organisations have started internal discussion to form separate Islamist coalition to contest the next parliament election and many others are discussing to join the existing big political parties like the ruling Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)  and Jatiya Party (HM Ershad).

Bangladesh Tarikat Federation, led by its chairman Nazibul Bashar Maizbhandari, is only Islamist component of the ruling Awami League-led alliance.

Ruling Awami League sources said the party which had redefined itself as a secular force under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, has only one Islamist party in its 14-Party coalition, the Sufi-based Tariqat Federation, while many Islamist parties, including Syed Bahadur Shah Mojaddedi-led Islamic Front Bangladesh, Zaker Party and Shammilito Islamic Jote, are trying to join the alliance.

BNP sources said some Islamist parties are now components of the 20-party alliance while the party is maintaining contact with many other Islamist parties and organisations to join their alliance or stay in touch against the current Awami League government ahead of the next national polls as the party wants to cash vote bank of Islamic-minded people. 

Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, Khelafat Majlish, Jamiyate Ulamaye Islam, a faction of Islami Oikya Jote, and Bangladesh Islamic Party are the Islamist components of the BNP-led alliance.

 HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party, the main opposition in parliament, also formed a political combine, namely United National Alliance with 58 political parties in May last year. Bangladesh Islami Front, led by MA Mannan, and components of Jatiya Islami Mahajote have also joined the alliance.  

Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish, an Islamic political party led by its ameer Principal Habibur Rahman, has come with Jatiya Party recently and signed an agreement for participating in the next parliamentary elections.

Abdul Latif Nejami, chairman of another faction of Islami Oikya Jote, formed alliance with Nejame Islam, Khelafate Islami, Olamaye Committee and Farayeji Jamaat, who has left the BNP-led alliance, said they are now discussing to form a separate alliance with four more Islamist parties, including Khelafat Andolon and Khelafat Majlish, to contest the next polls.  

 “We’ve planned to join in the next parliamentary elections separately. We’ve no desire to join any other political alliance. And we’re taking preparation to give candidates in all 300 constituencies. Finally it’ll depend on the situation what we’ll do,” Abdul Latif Nejami told the daily sun.

Hefazat-e-Islam, a ‘non-political’ organisation of the Islamist leaders of different Islamist parties and organisations, may play notable role in the next general election, the sources added. 

Asked about politics by the Islamist parties, Gyasuddin Molla, professor of Dhaka University and president of Rastrabigyan Samity, said, “The 1972 constitution of Bangladesh didn’t allow politics with religion but this provision is weak in the current constitution for which the Islamist parties and groups have got scope to practise the religion-based politics in the country now.”