Falling short by five seats
In the first parliament 45 years ago, none of the parties was recognised as official opposition due to their poor strength in the House.
The resounding victory of ruling Awami League-led alliance in Sunday's polls has diminished the scope for emergence of an official opposition in the new parliament.
The AL-led alliance together grabbed 288 seats out of 298 with the ruling party alone bagging 259 seats. The BNP-led alliance managed to secure only seven seats. [Election to Gaibandha-3 was rescheduled to January 27 following the death of a candidate and re-polling will take place in three centres in Brahmanbaria-2 on January 9.]
Against this backdrop, Jatiya Party may sit on the opposition bench in the new parliament to be formed with MPs-elect swearing in tomorrow.
The JP, a key component of the AL-led grand electoral alliance, emerged as the second largest party by obtaining 20 seats.
It needs at least five more to get official recognition as the opposition, according to the verbal directive given by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman during a debate in the first parliament on April 12, 1973.
In the first parliamentary election held in 1973, the AL won 293 seats. The opposition parties -- Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Bangladesh Jatiya League, National Awami Party and others obtained only seven seats.
They extended their support to Jatiya League leader Ataur Rahman Khan and demanded that he be recognised as the leader of the opposition.
During the debate over recognition as opposition, Bangabandhu said a party could not be recognised as opposition if it did not have at least 25 MPs.
If any group has less than 25 MPs and at least 10 MPs, it can be termed a parliamentary group, not a parliamentary party, said Bangabandhu.
"The speech delivered by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the only directive," wrote Khandaker Abdul Haq in his book "Parliamentary Practice and Procedure" published by the Jatiya Sangsad Secretariat in 2001.
"His directive has been derived from experiences of the Pakistan National Assembly and East Pakistan Provincial Assembly and it is consistent with the parliamentary culture of India and this sub-continent," wrote Haq, who was a senior official at the Parliament Secretariat.
If Bangabandhu's directive is taken into consideration, JP would need five more seats to qualify to become the opposition party in the new parliament. If JP is not the official opposition, none of its MPs could be the leader of the opposition.
The JP became the main opposition in the current parliament formed through the 2014 election, which the BNP-led alliance boycotted. It won 34 seats and its senior leader Raushan Ershad was recognised as the leader of the opposition with a status of a minister. Three JP MPs were also made ministers.
Their dual role has been criticised. The party could not play its due role as the main opposition in parliament in the last five years.
JP Secretary General Mashiur Rahman Ranga yesterday said his party would hold a joint meeting of the party's presidium members and MPs-elect today to decide whether it would join the government or sit on the opposition bench.
"We will also discuss it with the grand alliance," he said at a discussion at the party's Banani office.