Jatiya Party chief HM Ershad yesterday came up with the country's biggest-ever electoral alliance, comprised of 58 political parties, counting mainly on name-only Islamist parties.
Titled United National Alliance, the coalition has only two parties registered with the Election Commission -- Jatiya Party and Bangladesh Islami Front.
While announcing the formation of the alliance through a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club, Ershad said their goal is to contest the next parliamentary elections and form a government together.
According to the EC rules, no political party will be able to participate in elections if not registered with the EC.
The 56 other components in the new coalition include 34 Islamist parties of National Islamic Grand Alliance, which was formed at the Jatiya Press Club on April 1 with Abu Naser Wahed Faruk as its chief.
The UNA also took 22 parties of Bangladesh National Alliance. Former BNP leader Nazmul Huda was the chairman of BNA but he was removed on April 5 for “inactiveness”. Its current chief is Sikandar Ali Moni.
In terms of number of components, the UNA is the country's largest political alliance. The ruling Awami League-led alliance comprises 14 parties while the BNP-lead alliance 20.
The JP is the main opposition in parliament, and three of its lawmakers are members of the cabinet of the AL-led government. JP Chairman Ershad himself is the special adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
In reply to a question, Ershad yesterday said the JP is no longer with the AL-led alliance.
Asked whether the three JP leaders will quite the cabinet, he said the party forum will take the final decision in this regard.
“Nothing is final in politics,” Ershad, however, said.
There is speculation in political arena that Ershad's latest move could be part of a government plan to see JP as the main opposition if the BNP boycotts the 11th general election.
Before the 2001 national election, Ershad formed Islami Oikya Front and took part in the polls. His party contested the 2008 election as a component of the AL-led grand alliance.
In 2014, the JP independently participated in the national polls for 80 seats.
At the press briefing yesterday, Ershad was named the UNA chairman while JP Secretary General Ruhul Amin Hawlader its chief spokesperson.
According to the declaration of the UNA, no component in the alliance will be able to take decisions independently. Instead, a liaison committee will make and implement decisions.
The secretaries general of the components will be the members of the liaison committee while Ershad's political and press secretary Shunil Shuvo Roy will be its coordinator.
At the briefing, Ershad said no anti-liberation force will be allowed to join the alliance. Islamic values, respect for all religions, the spirit of Liberation War and Bangladeshi nationalism are the basic principles of the UNA.
He claimed that two more parties registered with the Election Commission decided to join the UNA. But he refused to disclose their names.