Jamaat likely to take new name

Ideology to remain unchanged

Mohammad Al Amin

14 February, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Jamaat-e-Islami, a key component of the BNP-led 20-party alliance, is likely to be renamed as the party wants to create a perception among people that it is not the party of war criminals, insiders said.

They said ideology and present organisational structure of the Islamist party will, however, remain unchanged if the party takes the new name.

The two close allies -- BNP and Jamaat -- are maintaining a strategic distance amid growing pressure on BNP at home and abroad to cut the ties.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently told parliament that the government can do nothing right now with the issue of banning Jamaat as a case in this regard is pending in the court.

“A case seeking ban on Jamaat is now pending in the court. We can do nothing here until the court delivers verdict in the case,” she said.

The prime minister expressed the hope that Jamaat will be banned if the court gives verdict in favour of the banning.

Jamaat lost its registration with the Election Commission (EC) for failing to fulfil conditions for registration. Registration with EC is a prerequisite for participating in any election as a political party.

Asked whether Jamaat is going to take a new name, nayeb-e-ameer of the party Mia Ghulam Parwar told the daily sun on Wednesday: “Jamaat-e-Islami still exists. If we have any plan [for renaming the party], we will inform you about it.”

Sources inside Jamaat said after hanging of top leaders of the party for crimes against humanity, the party has been carrying out its organisational activities secretly.

Many of its leaders and activists have gone into hiding to avoid arrest.

The party now cannot work openly while it has lost its registration with the EC and cannot compete in any election with its symbol ‘scale’. The party’s MP candidates contested the 11th parliamentary elections held on December 30 last year with the ‘sheaf of paddy’, the electoral symbol of its main ally BNP.

In this situation, the Jamaat high command has planned to rename the party and create a perception among the country’s people that it is not the party of war criminals, sources said.

However, some of the Jamaat men said if their party changes its name, then its ideologies will not be changed. The renamed party will follow the current ideology and structure.

They also think if the party changes its current name, then it will be benefited in politics as no one can term them ‘a party of war criminals’. The party can also run their political activities publicly, they said.

Jamaat insiders said the party’s Majlis-e-Shura held meetings in 13 regions across the country at a time in mid-January this year and they conveyed their decision to the central working committee.

The meetings suggested refraining from participating in upazila parishad polls and changing the name of the party. They also suggested leaving the 20-party alliance and strengthening the organisation.

However, Jamaat’s central working committee held a meeting on February 7 and took a decision to carry on their organisational activities secretly, not to hold any public programme right now and to reorganise the party.

Jamaat insiders said the Islamist party will not leave the BNP-led 20-party alliance if BNP does not cut ties with Jamaat.

On the other hand, BNP leaders think if Jamaat changes its name, then it will be comfortable for BNP to continue relationship with the Islamist party like other political parties.

Currently, 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 while other components of BNP-dominated Jatiya Oikya Front are pressurising the party to cut its ties with Jamaat.

Talking to the daily sun, some BNP leaders said the party is not holding any joint programme with the components of the 20-party alliance for long as part of its strategic stance on its ties with Jamaat.

Asked about cutting relationship with Jamaat, BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan told the daily sun that he did not hear any such decision. “As a coordinator of the 20-party alliance, I can say that Jamaat is still in the 20-party alliance.”

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.

“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,” said a BNP leader.