Grand alliance or 14-party?
With around two months left for the 11th national polls, the ruling Awami League is yet to finalise decisions on many key issues, including whether it will join the election under the 14-party or the grand alliance.
The AL is also yet to decide on the size of the polls-time cabinet and begin talks on seat sharing with its partners in the 14-party combine, which the party considers its "ideological" alliance.
Against this backdrop, AL President Sheikh Hasina has convened a joint meeting of the party's central working committee, advisory council and the AL Parliamentary Party to be held at the Gono Bhaban today. The central working committee is the highest-decision making body while the advisory council is the think-tank of the party.
The key decisions are likely to be made at the meeting starting from 6:00pm, said party leaders.
On Tuesday, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader said his party would make the final decision on the election-time cabinet at the joint meeting.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said, "As the election is nearing, the Awami League president will come up with specific guidelines and directions at the meeting."
Asked about the AL's decision on the other pending issues, he said the party would finalise all its decisions after the announcement of the election schedule.
According to party insiders, the AL has adopted a "wait and see" policy on the alliance formation. It first wants to observe what the BNP decides about joining the polls.
Recently, BNP and three other political parties formally launched an alliance called Jatiya Oikyafront. The BNP said it would go for the election but did not say anything about contesting it under the alliance.
The AL had won the national elections in 2009 under the banner of the grand alliance, which it considers its ”electoral” alliance. The party fought the 2014 polls under the 14-party alliance.
As the BNP is trying to form bigger alliances, the ruling party is also contemplating expanding the 14-party combine. It has contacted a number of religion-based political parties and also left-leaning ones. However, the party didn't make any concrete decision in this regard, said party sources.
Ruling party leaders think the size of the polls-time cabinet should be kept intact. It's because the smaller the cabinet, the weaker the government, they said.
They want the current cabinet to continue functioning during the polls as there is no provision in the constitution about the size of the cabinet, they added.
On Monday, the prime minister hinted at the cabinet size, saying she preferred not to downsize it for the sake of completing the ongoing crucial development projects.
But earlier, Obaidul Quader had said the cabinet size could be smaller.
Quader, however, on Tuesday said one or two more ministers might be included in the cabinet from main opposition Jatiya Party, even if the current cabinet is trimmed down.
During a meeting with the AL chief on September 9, JP Chairman HM Ershad demanded inclusion of three of his party leaders -- Kazi Feroz Rashid, Ziauddin Bablu and Ruhul Amin Hawlader -- in the polls-time cabinet. The current cabinet include three ministers from the party.
But the ruling party has already decided not to keep any technocrat ministers in the election-time cabinet.