Tail-up Jamaat bids to steer BNP
The Jamaat-e-Islami, encouraged after enforcing December 4 hartal, seeks to drive the whole opposition to launch a tougher anti-government movement.
The party made the hartal a "success" with the BNP and other small partners of the18-party alliance supporting it, Jamaat leaders said. It has now been convincing those parties to pressurise the main opposition BNP to prepare for street agitations demanding release of Jamaat's top leaders facing war crimes trial.
This strategy of Jamaat worked ahead of the hartal, sources in the parties, including Islamic Party, National Peoples Party, Khelafat Majlish and Bangladesh Labour Party, said. Their spontaneous support to the hartal had compelled the BNP to extend its moral backing.
BNP's "go slow" policy had annoyed the alliance's other partners who wanted immediate action to force the government to fulfil their demands, including the restoration of the caretaker government system, some members of the alliance told The Daily Star.
And Jamaat took the advantage of this situation. It expressed solidarity with those parties to drum up support for its cause.
On December 3 at the secretary general's meeting of the alliance at the BNP's Naya Paltan office, Jamaat brought up its plan to enforce a dawn-to-dusk hartal the following day. At that time the majority of the alliance instantly extended their support to Jamaat.
But the BNP took ten hours to announce that it was on Jamaat's side.
"The Dec 4 hartal proved that Jamaat is alone capable of holding any programme successfully at any time," Jashim Uddin Sarker, legal affairs secretary of Jamaat, said.
That was the first such move taken by Jamaat in the last four years.
Jammat was making moves in its own way, Jashim said.
Jamaat activists across the country were prepared for today's eight-hour road block programme intended to show their strength, some party leaders said.
Whenever Jamaat took to the streets or held any protest, it was strongly resisted or harassed by the law enforcers, Shaikh Shawkat Hossain Nilu, chief of the National Peoples Party (NPP), said.
But Jamaat in a programme held by the alliance can easily raise its demand for the release of its detained leaders, a Liberal Democratic Party leader said whishing not to be named. Jammat has all support from the small parties and so it is using them to get BNP's backing for a hardline stance, he added.
Talking to The Daily Star, a number of leaders of the BNP-led 18-party alliance echoed this view.
Jamaat at the alliance's chairman-level meeting on December 6 also requested BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia to take a hardline stance against the government, said Islamic Party Chairman Abdul Mobin who was present there.
"In response, Khaleda expressed her sympathy for Jamaat and said they would go for tougher programmes like hartal and blockade if the government did not meet their demands."
Many parties in the alliance thought that the opposition should launch a protest programme now, said the NPP chief Nilu.
The BNP, however, was not yet ready for such action, he said, and it had support from the Liberal Democratic Party and the Bangladesh Jatiya Party in this case.