Oli eyes new alliance to ‘free Khaleda’
Oli Ahmed, president of the Liberal Democratic Party, a component of the BNP-led 20-party combine, is likely to announce the formation of a separate political alliance for the release of Khaleda Zia.
The move may come as the BNP leadership has “completely” failed to free Khaleda, who has been in jail in two corruption cases since February last year, said senior LDP leaders.
The alliance would comprise like-minded parties of the LDP, they said, but did not give their names.
They also said the LDP would not leave the 20-party combine.
Talking to The Daily Star, LDP sources said Oli, a founding member of the BNP, may hold a press conference today. The announcement about the new alliance is likely to come from there, they said.
Political figures from different parties, including Jamaat-e-Islami, Kalyan Party, Jatiya Ganatantrik Party, NPP and Khelafat Majlish, are expected to attend the press conference, said an LDP leader, wishing not to be named.
Several BNP insiders said Oli wanted to come to limelight by announcing new programmes at a time when many of the partners in the 20-party were frustrated at the BNP for participating in the last parliamentary elec-tion as well as the party’s intimacy with Jatiya Oikyafront, another political alliance formed before the polls.
Some of them said Oli would float another alliance under his leadership taking along parties like Jamaat, which are visibly upset with the BNP’s leadership role in the 20-party.
“Oli is a very senior leader. As many grassroots leaders are aggrieved at the BNP top brass, he wants to take the opportunity to bring the limelight on him,“ a senior BNP leader said, wishing not to be named.
Some of the aggrieved alliance leaders said the BNP leadership has “failed in every sphere”, including in securing Khaleda’s release and even announcing any programmes protesting the December 30 election in which the Jatiya Oikyafront suffered a debacle.
BNP and its partners alleged massive rigging in the polls.
Talking to The Daily Star, LDP Senior Joint Secretary General Shahadat Hossain Selim said, “Oli Ahmed has a very good relation with Zia family. That is why he wants to hit the street to release Khaleda Zia from jail.
“BNP leadership has utterly failed to wage any movement, both on the legal side and on the streets, to free Khaleda. Oli wants to do something at this part of his life,” he said.
Formation of a new political alliance came up for discussion recently after several alliance leaders did not extend their support to the BNP candidate in the recent Bogura-6 by-polls and Jamaat’s absence in the latest 20-party meeting.
The BNP candidate later won the polls.
Besides, at a programme in May, Oli also said he was willing to take the responsibility of strengthening the 20-party alliance to free Khaleda from jail and to resolve the current “political crisis” in the country.
Oli said there was no scope for sitting idle. “We have also taken an initia-tive [to strengthen the 20-party]. I would like to tell BNP leaders that ei-ther you lead us or let us take the lead.
“It’s not possible for Khaleda to give us directives by staying behind bars. Tarique Rahman also cannot play an active role as he is in Lon-don.”
He also said he had no objection if the movement was launched under the leadership of capable and acceptable BNP leaders.
Contacted yesterday, Oli did not clarify whether he would be floating any alliance.
He said they were with the 20-party alliance in past and remain so in fu-ture.
Asked whether any of his move could split the BNP, Oli said, “I am not a member of the BNP. So how would I split it? We will hold a press confer-ence tomorrow [today] to announce some fresh programmes for making the [20-party] alliance more effective.”
He, however, strongly opposed the BNP’s decision of sending its MPs-elect to parliament, saying the move “legitimised” the current govern-ment.
Talking to The Daily Star, several alliance leaders said their roles in the alliance were properly evaluated by the BNP leadership. They had differ-ence of opinion on several issues in the past. At one point, Jatiya Party left the alliance after the BNP joined parliament without consulting its partners, they said.
Besides, after Khaleda Zia was jailed on February 8 last year, Oli started skipping alliance meeting headed by BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
At a press conference on February 10, Oli called for Khaleda’s release.
Oli joined the meetings as the coordinator of the alliance in the later days after the BNP decided to join last year’s parliament polls, said alliance sources.
On October 26 in 2006, Oli and 13 other BNP lawmakers left the party and floated the LDP. The move came just a day before the BNP-led four-party alliance would complete its tenure in the government.
At that time, Oli blamed the BNP leadership for corruption and misrule.
Later, the LDP sided with the Awami League, but contested the 2008 general election separately and won a parliamentary seat. On April 18, 2012, Oli joined the then BNP-led alliance.