AL leaves allies out in the cold | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, October 30, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, October 30, 2009

AL leaves allies out in the cold

Grand alliance partners ignored in making policies, strategies to work jointly for democracy, good governance as pledged before polls

The ruling Awami League has seldom consulted with its grand alliance partners for taking any decision although the parties pledged before the parliamentary polls to work in unison for good governance and a strong democracy.
Almost 10 months into power, the AL has not convened a single meeting with alliance partners Jatiya Party, Workers Party and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Inu) to fix the strategy to work as one political force to implement their common electoral pledges.
As a result, the alliance cannot oversee whether the cabinet is functioning and taking measures in conformity with its pledges made before the December 29 polls.
The parties' common goal to politically fight religious fundamentalism and militancy has also failed to gain momentum because of the AL's "lone ranger attitude", alliance leaders told The Daily Star.
"The grand alliance exists, but it is not active," JSD-Inu Executive President Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal told The Daily Star.
Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon said he recently talked to the AL chief and general secretary about resuming activities of the alliance but no move has been made to this end although both of them assured him of holding a meeting of the alliance.
A number of leaders of the AL and its alliance partners said they feel the urgency to build a national consensus on some major issues like completing the trial of Bangabandhu murder case, holding trial of the war criminals and fighting religious fundamentalists and militants.
Some senior AL leaders, who are not in the council of ministers, also expressed dissatisfaction at the fact that the party formed the government but has very little influence over it, which is affecting the party's political activities.
The AL's policymaking and decision-making bodies have not sat regularly to discuss the changing situation and implementation status of the party's electoral pledges. The AL Presidium and Central Working Committee have held only a few meetings since January.
Talking to The Daily Star on October 24, AL Presidium member Obaidul Quader however said the Presidium would sit soon after the prime minister's return from abroad to discuss the overall situation in the country.
"We will also sit with the grand alliance leaders to discuss the current political situation," he said.
The AL did not convene any meeting of its advisory council for suggestions on the country's political, economic and social affairs.
Even formation of the AL advisory council is yet to complete. According to the party constitution, the council is supposed to be formed with 41 members while it has only 20 now.
A number of senior AL leaders said the government alone is working to address the political situation, but the party, as a major political force, has been kept unused.
Meanwhile, politics in the country seems to have gone back to its old days of intolerance, unlawful activities by ruling party men, lax observance of democratic practices within parties, and parliament boycott by the opposition.
The bomb attack on AL lawmaker Fazle Noor Taposh also triggered apprehension of deterioration in law and order.
Rashed Khan Menon said, "It is imperative that we [the alliance leaders] sit together to fix the strategy to overcome the prevailing situation as the reasons for forming the AL-led 14-party alliance and later the grand alliance still exist."
Stressing the need to strengthen the grand alliance's political activities to engage people with political issues, Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal said, "This is the only prescription to overcome the present situation."
A Jatiya Party Presidium member said the grand alliance leaders sat together only once following the BDR mutiny last February. "The Awami League should take immediate initiative to sit with the alliance leaders to fix the course of action to build a national consensus," he said.
AL leader Suranjit Sengupta said progressive political forces must assist the government in fighting evil forces like militancy and religious fundamentalism. People must also be engaged with the process, he added.

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