Top BNP leaders have met AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury and his cohorts at his residence, a day before the rally of Jukto Front and ‘Jatiya Oikya Prokria’ as part of their political manoeuvres to explore options for better electoral fortunes, Agencies report.
Kept under wraps until the press had a sniff, the Friday rendezvous began around 5:15pm and lasted more than an hour at the Baridhara house of the Jukto Front chairman.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and senior policymakers Moudud Ahmed and Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain were joined there by Bikalpadhahara Bangladesh Secretary General Abdul Mannan and Joint Secretary General Mahi B Chowdhury.
A senior leader of the party has dropped a broad hint that BNP leaders may show up at the rally slated for Saturday afternoon at Mahanagar Natyamancha in the capital.
If that happens, political commentators believe the frantic efforts to forge a ‘greater unity’ with parties that are outside of the powerful bloc headed by the ruling Awami League may take shape.
The three BNP leaders emerged from the house around 6:45pm. Badruddoza’s son Mahi also came out, but declined to comment on the meeting.
The BNP leaders came by separate cars but left in a microbus together. Security guards of the building barred the bdnews24.com correspondent from speaking to the BNP leaders.
A person close to Mirza Fakhrul said the BNP leader did not ride his car to Badruddoza’s home.
There were speculations that the BNP leaders sat with some more leaders of the ‘Jatiya Oikya Prokria’ later in the night, but no BNP leader would comment on the issue.
After forming the Jukto Front in December last year, the alliance is trying to get former Awami League leader Abdul Kader Siddique’s Krishak, Sramik, Janata League in the alliance.
They recently launched the bid to include senior lawyer Dr Kamal Hossain’s Gono Forum in the fold with the parliamentary elections scheduled for December.
By the end of August, they announced to work together with Dr Kamal. The BNP, too, has long been calling for a ‘greater unity’ against the Awami League government.
The media recently reported that the BNP is ready to accept the leadership of Badruddoza, who was made president of the country by the coalition government headed by Khaleda Zia, or Dr Kamal, who had left the Awami League in the 90s, for the ‘unity’.
Dr Kamal will preside over the rally while Badruddoza will be chief guest, he told bdnews24.com.
“We’ve invited several parties, including the BNP. Members of the civil society and leaders of professionals have also been invited. I hope they all will come,” he added.
The BNP‘s participation in the ‘Jatiya Oikya Prokria’ rally was ‘almost certain’, a senior BNP leader told bdnews24.com.
The party would formally make it known who will take part in the rally and what they will say, he added.
Badruddoza spoke to Dr Kamal on Subrata’s phone during the meeting.
His Press Secretary Jahangir Alam confirmed to bdnews24.com the Bikalpadhara president would indeed attend the ‘Jatiya Oikya Prokria’ rally as chief guest.
The Jukto Front and the Gono Forum had earlier jointly announced a five-point charter of demand. Their demands are:
>> Dissolution of parliament before the schedule for the next election is announced, and formation of an election-time government after discussions with all parties. The leaders of this government cannot contest in the election.
>> Reformation of the EC with people acceptable to all parties through discussions and handover of the control of the law enforcers to the EC before the polls.
>> Deployment of army with magistracy powers for 40 days from a month before the voting day.
>> Withdrawal of cases against politicians and students who took part in protests for reforms to the quota system in government jobs and road safety measures; a halt on arrest of politicians before the end of the next election.
>> No use of electronic voting machines or EVMs in polls.
The BNP has welcomed the Badruddoza-Dr Kamal pact with open arms. Mirza Fakhrul had also said they were ‘ready to make sacrifices’ to fashion a greater political coalition against the Awami League.
The ruling party and its allies, however, view the new alliance before the election with distrust. Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JaSoD President and Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu described the five-point charter of demand of the ‘Jatiya Oikya Prokria’ as a ‘photocopy’ of the BNP-Jamaat alliance’s position.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has welcomed the move by Badruddoza and Dr Kamal to work together, but questioned the motive behind the new alliance ahead of the next general election, indicating that the new coalition ‘wants to usurp power in undemocratic ways’.
She described the Jukto Front-Gono Forum deal as a ‘bid by anti-Awami League people to come together’.