14-party alliance non-functioning, say allies

The 14-party alliance leaders meet for the first time on 13 February 2019 after the 11th general elections. This photo was taken when Mohammad Nasim was the spokesperson of the alliance

The 14-party alliance leaders meet for the first time on 13 February 2019 after the 11th general elections. This photo was taken when Mohammad Nasim was the spokesperson of the alliance
Prothom Alo file photo

The 14-party alliance became more or less inactive after it formed the government for the third consecutive time. Even though they came to power through an election alliance, the allies say this is an Awami League government. No one from among the allies has found place in the cabinet this time. Suppressed anger and dissatisfaction simmers within the alliance, though Awami League pays no heed. So while the alliance still exists, it is idle and inactive.

Leaders of the alliance say that the 14-party alliance had been formed as a pro-liberation war force to establish democracy and stand up against communalism, rape, drugs, crime and looting. But the alliance had no significant programmes to this end over the past two years.

Rashed Khan Menon, president of Workers Party, an ally of the 14-party alliance, said that the alliance had no programmes at present due to the coronavirus situation. The parties are holding separate programmes, but this has not created any distance. However, he added, the time has come to take a firm stand in face of recent activities of communal quarters.

Several leaders of the alliance said… this is an alliance led by Awami League and nothing will happen unless Awami League wants

Leaders of the alliance feel that with no strong opposition on the streets, the importance of the allies has faded for Awami League. However, none of the parties are thinking of leaving the alliance. A leader of the alliance, on condition of anonymity, said the 14-party is neither in the cabinet, nor on the streets. It exists in name only, with no activities at all.

President of Bangladesh JSD, Sharif Nurul Ambia, said that the policies and ideology in which the country is running at present are far removed from the alliance. An authoritarian rule exists. The 14-party alliance has lost relevance. However, if Awami League wants, it can be rendered effective again.

JASAD president Hasanul Huq Inu, however, maintains that the alliance is still relevant and effective. Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said the achievements have not been consolidated as yet. The threat of communalism still exists and the 14-party alliance needs to be more active all over the country.

Elements within the alliance say that Awami League is doing everything by itself and the 14-party alliance is non-functioning. It had lost relevance even earlier

The 14-party alliance has had no significant programme over the last two years. Awami League presidium member and spokesperson of the alliance Mohammad Nasim passed away in June this year. A month after that, member of Awami League advisory council, Amir Hossain Amu, took over as the alliance’s coordinator and spokesperson. A few online meetings were held since then.

Several leaders of the alliance told Prothom Alo that even though many of them have called for the alliance’s activities to be stepped up, nothing will happen. This is an alliance led by Awami League and nothing will happen unless Awami League wants.

General secretary of ally NAP (Muzaffar), Ismail Hossain, said the 14-party alliance is inactive because of Awami League. The allies want to be active in the true sense, they should not just be used as a tool. If Awami League feels that the usefulness of the alliance is over, they should discuss that too.

While discontent brews within the alliance, it is not being expressed openly. Some within the alliance still hope to gain benefits from the government, even possibly a place in the cabinet. They also fear evoking the government’s anger if they take a stand against it. That is why they are in favour of keeping the alliance intact.

Elements within the alliance say that Awami League is doing everything by itself and the 14-party alliance is non-functioning. It had lost relevance even earlier. Some, though, say that the alliance is gaining relevance due to the rise of communalism.

General secretary of Jatiya Party (JP) Sheikh Shahidul Islam expressed concern over the recent threats to destroy a statue of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the increased activities of right-leaning forces. However, he feels that there is no significant political issue at the moment and simply taking to the streets with no issue can be instigative. And the coronavirus situation must also be taken into consideration, he added.

A central leader of Awami League said in the 2008 election to the ninth Jatiya Sangsad, five were elected members of parliament from among the allies of 14-party alliance. Presently there are eight. This includes four from Workers Party, two from JASAD, one for Tariqat Federation and one from JP. In the 11th parliamentary election, JASAD’s Mainuddin Khan Badal was elected MP, but in the by-election after his death, the seat went to Awami League.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, the alliance’s coordinator Amir Hossain Amu said there may be grievances among some in the alliance, but that is not a problem. The unity of the alliance is intact, no distance has been created. Various plans and programmes will be decided upon in consultation with all.

Several alliance leaders, however, said that with BNP in a crisis and Jatiya Party not being viewed as the opposition, a political vacuum has emerged in the country. This has created apprehensions of communal forces rising up. That is why the 14-party alliance remains relevant.

* This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir

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