BNP, other parties resume unity bid

Start meeting today as Dr Kamal returns

After a brief pause in the efforts towards “greater unity”, the BNP and other political parties involved will begin to sit from today to give it a concrete shape.

The BNP has already assigned its Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and standing committee members Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain and Moudud Ahmed to negotiate with the other political parties over forging unity.

The process came to an apparent halt as Dr Kamal Hossain, convenor of Jatiya Oikya Prokriya and a key figure in the process, went abroad for treatment last month.

Back in town yesterday, he told this newspaper that from today, they will sit everyday to finalise the unity process and he is hopeful that the “final shape” will be visible within seven days.

As more or less all the issues are settled, it would not take time, he added.

In another development, Prof Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Juktofront has assigned Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna to negotiate with the BNP.

Juktofront, an alliance comprising Badruddoza's Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rob) and Nagorik Oikya, recently allied itself with Dr Kamal's Jatiya Oikya Prokriya.

On September 22, several top BNP leaders shared the stage with Dr Kamal and Badruddoza at a citizens' rally and extended full support to Jatiya Oikya Prokriya's three-point demand including formation of a polls-time neutral government.

The other two demands are effective steps for reconstituting the Election Commission and dissolution of parliament before the announcement of the election schedule.

Senior BNP leaders called for “greater unity” also from a rally on September 30 and pressed for demands similar to that of the Oikya Prokriya.

The party wants to complete the process as soon as possible as it wants to observe some programmes together with the other political parties, insiders say.

The party high-ups could not finalise those prgorammes as the unity process is yet to get any formal shape, they added. 

However, some party leaders said they will stage public meetings once the schedule for the upcoming parliamentary polls is announced. 

“We will observe our programmes but want to discuss with other political parties so that we can move forward together to achieve our goals,” said a senior leader wishing anonymity.

BNP leaders also said they are ready to share parliamentary seats with the other political parties in the upcoming election if all come under a single platform.

Mahmudur Rahman Manna said seat-sharing will not be a big issue and Jamaat-e-Islami will also not be a barrier.

BNP's longstanding ties with Jamaat has emerged as an obstacle to the “greater national unity” as Bikalpadhara already made it clear that BNP must cut its ties with the Islamist party.

On negotiations with the BNP, Manna added, “They said they will bring checks and balances when they assume office. Our point is we have to fix the modality of how checks and balances would be brought and how good governance will be ensured in every tier of the state.”