Reformist Jamaat leaders likely to form new party

Mohammad Al Amin

23 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Reformist leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami are likely to announce a new political party by including those who have war crime-free image.

“We have fixed April 27 as a tentative date for disclosing our initiative, which will ultimately lead to the formation of a new political party. Venue of our programme has not been finalised yet,” Mojibur Rahman Manju, a former Jamaat leader who has been expelled from the party, told the daily sun on Monday.

He said they will formally disclose their initiative at the programme. “We will call upon those who will be interested in our political process to join the initiative,” he said without elaborating.

Manju, also former Majlis-e-Shura member of Jamaat, said they will not form any Islamic political party like Jamaat-e-Islami, a party of war criminals.

Sources said a number of former Jamaat and Islami Chhatra Shibir leaders who wanted to bring reforms to Jamaat for freeing it from the stigma of a party of war criminals have taken the initiative to form the new political party.

A number of professionals, including university teachers, physicians and lawyers, and leaders of some other political parties are likely to join the new party, they said.

A leader who is involved in the initiative to form a new political party alternative to Jamaat said they have already held a series of meetings to make the work plan and constitution of the new political party.

Jamaat sources said the party has been facing internal conflicts for several years on two issues — apologising to the nation for its role in the 1971 Liberation War and reforming the party changing its core principle of establishing shariah and Islamic Republic.

The reformist leaders, mainly the young leaders, argued that Jamaat must apologise to the nation for its role in the Liberation War to get rid of stigma attached to it.

But most of the senior leaders, argued that the party did nothing wrong taking ‘political stand’ against the Liberation War and the proposed apology to the nation would boomerang against the party, the party sources said.

However, Jamaat is now divided into two parts -- one is main stream and another is reformists. Jamaat Ameer Maqbul Ahmed and secretary general Shafiqur Rahman continued maintaining their firm stand against the reformists, party leaders said.

On February 16 this year, Jamaat expelled Mojibur Rahman Manju from the party accusing him of violating party discipline and involvement in anti-organisation activities.

Mojibur said that he wanted to engage in a new political party with an ideology of welfare state, adding that major political parties, including Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat, failed to fulfil people’s aspirations.

He said that majority of the young force in Jamaat were demanding reforms.

Top defence lawyer for Jamaat leaders in war crimes trial Abdur Razzaq, who resigned as Jamaat assistant secretary general on February 15, in his resignation letter cited Jamaat’s failure to apologise to the nation for its ‘role in opposing the historic struggle for liberation in 1971’ and to reform the party in light of the realities of the 21st century and the developments in the Muslim majority countries.

Asked whether Abdur Razzaq will be involved in the new political party, Manju replied negative. However, sources said finally Shafiqur Rahman may become the chief of the new political party.

A former Jamaat leader said many Jamaat leaders believed that an alternative political party to Jamaat should be formed by changing its core policy as most of the people got irritated with the name of Jamaat because of its role in the War of Liberation and communal activities.

“Though senior Jamaat leaders are opposing the initiative to form a new party, many of them finally may join the new political party formed by the reformists. Even if the Jamaat is banned, then its leaders will not face any problem as they will join the alternative party,” he added.

Jamaat sources said the reformist leaders of Jamaat moved to float the new political party amid fears of Jamaat being banned and to calm internal rift over bringing reforms to the party.

Amid demand of reformation inside the party, senior Jamaat-e-Islami leaders took a step to return to the mainstream politics and to form a new party with a ‘war crime’-free face, said party insiders.

Jamaat central executive committee at a meeting on January 14 took a decision that they would bring a change in their party. A five-member high-powered committee headed by Jamaat secretary general Shafiqur Rahman was formed to implement the decision following observation made by Jamaat majlish-e-shura, the group’s highest policymaking body.

Asked about the plan to float a reformed party, Jamaat’s Nayeb-e-Amir Mia Ghulam Parwar told the daily sun on Monday that the party secretary general would give an announcement in this regard on time.

Jamaat insiders said the initiative to float a new political party by Jamaat leaders finally is not working as senior leaders of the Islamist party do not want to leave it. Instead, some senior Jamaat leaders are trying to bring ‘some so-called change’ in the party just for show but they are trying to foil the initiative of the reformists, sources said.