AL relieved at B Chy’s exclusion, but keeps eye on Oikyo Front
Evidently happy to see former president Badruddoza Chowdhury’s exclusion from the new opposition coalition, ruling Awami League is confident of victory in the next general elections.
Yet, AL leaders are preparing for the elections keeping their eye on the coalition, renamed as Jatiya Oikya Front (National Unity Front).
The AL policymakers consider the Front without Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh of B Chowdhury to be weak and say this ‘vulnerable’ coalition will not be able to realise its demands such as poll-time neutral govenment.
“We’ve nothing to worry about the unity of the opposition. It has been forged at a time when they will not find much time to reach the people,” AL presidium member Abdur Razzaque told Prothom Alo.
His reaction followed announcement of the Front by reputed jurist Kamal Hossain, and senior BNP leaders and a few other opposition parties and groups, at the National Press Club on Saturday.
The AL leader said it would not be possible for the opposition coalition to realise their demand to hold the election under a neutral government, nor could it gain electoral favour due to time constraints.
Razzaque shows confidence that their party’s early election preparations would pay off.
However, while taking preparing for the elections, the ruling party will keep its focus mainly on what the opposition coalition does, AL insiders admitted.
“The 11th parliamentary election will be a bit different from the one held on 5 January 2014. This time around, the Awami League will have to face the National Unity Front led by Kamal Hossain and the BNP,” said one of the AL policymakers seeking anonymity.
Some of the AL leaders were relieved when former president Badruddoza Chowdhury and his son Mahi B Chowdhury refrained from joining the unity process at the last moment.
The AL camp is firm that the government would hold the 11th parliamentary election in due time and the election would be held under prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
The elections will be arranged in a manner free from conflict, according to the AL’s plan. The AL leaders hope none will be able to stop the AL-led 14-party alliance from emerging as victorious in the next election as well.
Sheikh Hasina, also AL president, asked the party leaders to take preparations keeping in mind the current electoral system, the opposition’s unity process involving the BNP and other opposition parties.
She made the directive when the party held its meeting on election manifesto, the day the court delivered the verdict on the 21 August grenade attack case convicting a number of BNP leaders including acting chairman Tarique Rahman.
Some AL leaders said in view of the court judgement, the AL’s control over the administration, and ‘geopolitical realities’, nobody will be able to challenge the AL in the elections.
The AL is now focussed on election-time government, authoring the election manifesto, selecting party nominees tackling intra-party conflict and expansion of the 14-party alliance.
The party is in touch with the left-leaning parties and religion-based political parties and groups.
AL leaders said they are trying to ensure participation of highest number of parties in the election if the opposition parties including the BNP boycott the elections.
Different government agencies are also active in commissioning the AL plan, the leaders said.
Abdur Razzaque, who is assigned to prepare the manifesto, said it has not been finalised yet.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.