Awami League sticks to old plan for Jatiya Party with no signs of BNP in vote yet

The Awami League and the Jatiya Party have contested the last three general election either under the Grand Alliance, or shared seats separately

Kazi Mobarak
Published : 20 Nov 2023, 09:55 PM
Updated : 20 Nov 2023, 09:55 PM

The Awami League sees no need to form a Grand Alliance with the Jatiya Party to win the general election. In that case, the governing party may make concessions to the opposition in parliament - as it did in the 2014 polls.

The Awami League is not keen on reconstituting the Grand Alliance if the BNP stays away from the polls, said a member of the ruling party’s election management committee.

“From now on, the Jatiya Party will contest the election with their plough symbol, but we won’t field candidates in certain constituencies.”

Asked about the matter, Awami League Presidium Member Abdur Rahman said: “The issue is whether the Jatiya Party intends to contest the election as part of a coalition or not."

On whether the Awami League will leave some seats to the Jatiya Party if there is a Grand Alliance or not, he said, "That possibility is still there."

The Awami League has negotiated seats with the Jatiya Party and 14-Party Alliance partners in each of the three elections since the 2008 ninth parliamentary elections.

In the ninth and 11th parliamentary elections, the party in power for 15 years took on the BNP and its allies with a Grand Alliance.

The Awami League leads an alliance with 14 parties after the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami alliance boycotted the 10th parliamentary elections.

Even though the Jatiya Party was not part of the Awami League-led alliance, the Awami League did not field candidates in 23 constituencies where the Jatiya Party had strong contestants.

Now the main opposition in parliament, the Jatiya Party won those seats in the last two terms.

This time too, the Awami League and its 14 parties have written to the Election Commission about taking part in the election under the umbrella of an alliance.

Jatiya Party’s Chief Patron and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Raushon Ershad also sent a similar letter.

However, in the letter sent by the party's Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu, nothing was said about forming an alliance.

If the BNP goes to the polls in a dramatic climbdown, it will not be able to form an alliance unless the schedule is altered. Because, in that case, the deadline to inform the Election Commission has expired.

The Awami League has a draft list of seats that it will leave to its partners, with data from the last three elections available.

There is little chance of the Awami League making more compromises beyond the levels seen in those elections.

In some other seats, the contest was open and candidates from different parties in the Awami League-led alliance fought separately there.

Asked if they will form a Grand Alliance with the Jatiya Party again, Kazi Zafarullah Chowdhury, co-chairman of the Awami League’s election management committee, said that they were still talking to other parties. “There will be an alliance. The 14 parties are still in the alliance.”

On the same question, Rashed Khan Menon, president of the Workers Party of Bangladesh - an Awami League partner in the 14-Party Alliance - told "Workers Party will go to the election under an alliance. More parties may join.”

Syed Najibul Bashar Maizbhandari, chairman of the Tarikat Federation, another Awami League ally among the 14 parties, confirmed they are not leaving the coalition led by the ruling party.

The BNP has launched agitations in protest against the election schedule with the voting set to take place on Jan 7.

The party is still not showing interest in contesting elections unless a non-partisan caretaker government is installed.

The Jatiya Party says it is preparing for the election in all 300 seats that are up for grabs.

It has also announced the sale of nomination forms.

On Saturday, Secretary General Chunnu said in a letter to the Election Commission that the person authorised to nominate candidates on behalf of their party was Chairman GM Quader.

On the same day, another letter was sent by Raushon. It said that the party was willing to use its own symbol as well as the symbol of the Grand Alliance, which is the Awami League’s boat.

Secretary General Chunnu told reporters on Sunday that they want to field candidates in all seats. “We don't want alliances or grand alliances.”

However, he added the letter he gave to the Election Commission is part of routine work.

It does not mean they are certainly contesting in the elections, according to him.

[Writing in English by Osham-ul-Sufian Talukder]