Raushan Ershad was declared Jatiya Party chairperson yesterday as the rift between her and GM Quader over the party leadership and post of Leader of the Opposition in the Jatiya Sangsad deepens.
Flanked by a section of JP leaders and MPs, senior presidium member Anisul Islam Mahmud, also a lawmaker, made the announcement at a press conference in Raushan’s Gulshan residence.
Anisul said, “Raushan Ershad will discharge the duties of Jatiya Party chairperson. A permanent chair will be appointed in a democratic manner through a council in the next six months.”
Raushan, who was present there, said JP leaders were worried about the party. “They also fear that the party is going to split up like it did in the past. But I want to run the party together, with all.”
She urged those who had left the party at different times to join JP again.
Apart from other leaders and activists, 10 JP presidium members, including five MPs, were present.
The announcement exposes the turmoil in JP sans HM Ershad, who died on July 14 after prolonged bouts of illness.
Hours after the Raushan faction’s press conference, Quader held a briefing at the party’s Banani office and said action would be taken against those who declared Raushan the JP chief.
He said that according to the party charter, he is still the chairman.
Earlier on Wednesday, Raushan wrote to the Speaker not to accept Quader’s letter for recognising him as the Leader of the Opposition.
She said Quader sent the letter without any decision at the party forum and meeting of the Jatiya Party Parliamentary Party.
Anisul alleged that Quader was declared JP chairman violating the party’s constitution.
He said Raushan would recognise Quader as JP co-chairman.
Anisul said Moshiur Rahman Ranga would remain the party’s secretary general.
Hours after “taking charge as JP chairperson”, Raushan formed a 13-member Jatiya Party Parliamentary Board to finalise the party’s candidate to run for Rangpur-3 constituency, which fell vacant following Ershad’s death.
Interestingly, Quader was made a member of the Board.
On August 25, Quader had also formed a parliamentary board for the same purpose but Raushan was not included.
Formed in 1986, JP has so far broken up thrice, party insiders said.
Sources said JP lawmakers Anisul, Mujibul Haque Chunnu, and Fakhrul Imam played key roles in declaring Raushan the party chief.
The trio could not accept Quader as co-chairman after Ershad promoted him on January 17, 2016.
Following pressure from Anisul group, Ershad in April, 2016, appointed Raushan as JP senior co-chairperson.
On July 18, JP Secretary General Ranga formally announced that Quader was the JP chairman.
Ranga at a press conference that day said Ershad had declared that Quader would be the party chairman in his absence. “So, we’ve decided that Quader is our party chairman.”
Four days later, Raushan in a statement said Quader could not be declared the chairman without any decision made at party forums. She said she did not accept Quader as the chairman.
While suffering from various old-age complications, Ershad in February made Quader the party’s acting chairman. On March 22, caving in to pressure from Anisul group, he removed Quader from the post, party insiders said.
The following day, he removed Quader from the post of deputy leader of the opposition and gave Raushan the post.
On May 4, Ershad reinstated Quader to the post of acting chairman and urged party men to make Quader the new chairman of JP in the next party council.
WHAT QUADER SAYS
Quader at his press conference said JP would take actions against those who breached party discipline.
He said, “HM Ershad made me the party’s acting chairman in line with the party’s charter. He [Ershad] also in a written statement said I will act as the Jatiya Party chairman in his [Ershad] absence. After his death, majority of the party’s presidium members in a meeting in July decided to make me chairman of the party.”
Quader said the party, in line with its charter, had declared that he was the JP chairman. Eleven presidium members, including seven lawmakers, were present at that meeting.
JP has 25 lawmakers and 54 party presidium members.
“None becomes a king through just an announcement. The main thing is whether the announcement is valid. There should be a kingdom and legal acceptance to become a king.
“Raushan Ershad is like my mother and I still respect her.” He said he doubts whether she was involved in her being declared the JP chairperson.
Like Anisul, he claimed that Ranga was with him and he was still the secretary general.
Ranga was not in any of the press briefings.
Quader claimed the party was united and that anyone had the right to leave.
Jatiya Party sources said most party MPs and presidium members were backing Quader.
A presidium member loyal to Quader, said, “A section of JP senior leaders are getting benefits from the party in different ways ... using Raushan Ershad. They have moved again to divide the party for their personal interests ... . We will suffer more, if the party is divided again.”
Another presidium member said government high-ups could be behind the move made by Anisul group.
The notion that the government is behind the chaos in JP is absurd, said Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif.