The rift between the top leaders of the Jatiya Party is widening following HM Ershad’s latest dramatic decision to appoint his brother GM Quader as the party’s acting chairman, say party insiders.
Talking to The Daily Star, several senior JP leaders said Quader grabbed a crucial post by staging “a midnight coup”.
The party’s senior leaders, including Anisul Islam Mahmud, Ruhul Amin Hawlader and Mujibul Haque Chunnu, who are close to JP Senior Co-Chairperson Raushan Ershad, are unhappy with Ershad’s latest decision, say party sources.
A day after Quader’s appointment as acting chairman on May 4, he organised a press conference at the party chief’s Banani office, but no senior leaders or presidium members of the party were seen there.
Not only that, most of the senior leaders didn’t attend the programme organised by the party’s youth front on May 6 to accord him reception on his appointment.
Amid conflicts between the two factions led by Raushan and Quader, grassroots leaders and activists are in doubt about the party’s future.
Referring to the tussle between the top leaders over the party’s control, a former JP lawmaker said that since its inception in 1986, the party split thrice due to internal conflicts. It may see another split in near future.
Ershad, who has been suffering from old-age ailments for the last nine months, called an emergency press conference around 11:15pm on May 4 at his Baridhara home.
“I cannot perform my daily activities as the party chief due to ailments. That is why I am appointing Jatiya Party Co-Chairman GM Quader MP as acting chairman of the party to carry out the responsibilities until further notice,” he announced.
Talking to this correspondent yesterday, a JP presidium member loyal to Raushan questioned, “What was the necessity of holding an emergency press conference around midnight to make an announcement on his [Quader] appointment as acting chairman.”
Another senior party leader, who belongs to the Raushan faction, said, “We don’t bother who holds the post of the party’s acting chairman. We follow only HM Ershad. The party will decide on who will be the next chief in his absence.”
Earlier on March 22, Ershad removed Quader from the post of acting chairman as he had been under immense pressure from the Raushan faction to do so.
He also relieved Quader of the co-chairman post, saying his brother failed to discharge his duties and created divisions within the party. Party’s senior leaders also expressed frustration over Quader’s leadership, Ershad said in a statement.
The following day, Ershad also removed Quader from the post of deputy leader of the opposition.
But around two weeks later, Ershad, known for his flip-flops in politics, reinstated Quader to the post of co-chairman.
Contacted yesterday, Quader said he didn’t organise the May 4 press briefing.
“I was on my way home after having dinner with the chairman [Ershad] at his Baridhara residence. He asked me to go back to his residence, saying he wanted to announce the matter [Quader’s appointment as acting chairman] before the media.”
Quader claimed that almost all senior leaders are with him.
Asked about the rift between the party’s top leaders, he said such division is there in all political parties in the country. In JP, the conflict is not that serious.