Is an olive branch offered?
The rift between two Jatiya Party factions, led by Raushan Ershad and GM Quader, could melt away as the two leaders held a meeting at a city hotel yesterday and discussed ways to overcome their differences.
JP Chairman Quader called on Raushan, also the leader of the opposition in parliament, at the Westin Dhaka where Raushan has been staying since her return home from Bangkok on November 27.
The meeting, the first between the two top JP leaders in one year, was held at a time when the two factions had a face off over Raushan's recent move to hold the party's council and expulsion of several top leaders by Quader in retaliation.
Speaking to The Daily Star, sources close to the two leaders said they discussed how to address the differences and tensions created in the party over the last few months.
"The discussion was cordial. The two leaders agreed to strengthen Jatiya Party by overcoming the differences on party issues. I think that talks were fruitful," a JP leader close to Raushan, who was present at the hotel, said.
JP Co-chairman Syed Abu Hossain Babla, also a lawmaker, and presidium member Shafiqul Islam Sentu, both loyal to Quader, were present at the hotel.
Raushan's son Rahgir Al Mahe Ershad, a JP MP, and his wife Mahima Saad welcomed Quader to the hotel.
The JP chief exchanged greetings with Raushan and enquired about her health. They had breakfast together.
The two leaders held a one-to-onemeeting for about 10 to 15 minutes, sources said.
Sources close to Raushan said the JP leaders discussed getting the expelled and former leaders back into the party and properly evaluating their contributions to the organisation.
Raushan, also the chief patron of the JP, asked Quader to conduct the party activities following discussions with her and other senior leaders.
They also talked about nominating a strong and reliable party candidate for the upcoming mayor polls to Rangpur City Corporation. The opposition leader agreed to nominate incumbent Mayor Mostafizar Rahman Mostafa as the party's mayor candidate in the December 27 polls.
Raushan and Quader discussed the current political situation in the country. They also agreed to make the JP stronger and unite its leaders and activists ahead of the next general election.
"We don't want any division in the party. We want to unite all the leaders and activists of the party. We want to be elected to power to materialise the ideals of late president HM Ershad," a JP leader loyal to Quader told The Daily Star.
Aggrieved by Quader's recent sharp criticism of the government, AL high-ups was allegedly backing Raushan to put pressure on the JP chief.
The opposition leader on August 31 convened the party's 10th national council on November 26.
Sources in the JP said pro-Raushan faction had planned to remove Quader from the party's helm in the council and take control of the organisation.
Raushan, however, later postponed the council.
The rift between the two JP factions intensified as the JP Parliamentary Party on September 1 at a meeting decided to remove Raushan from the post of the opposition leader and replace her with Quader.
Quader is now the deputy leader of the opposition.
The JP chairman in the last three months expelled several leaders, including opposition chief whip Moshiur Rahman Ranga and former MP Ziaul Haque Mridha, from the party for siding with Raushan.
QUADER CLEARED FOR PERFORMING DUTIES
Yesterday, a High Court bench cleared the way for GM Quader to perform the duties as the JP chairman.
The HC bench of Justice Sheikh Abdul Awal stayed till January 3 a Dhaka court directive that on November 16 upheld an injunction order asking Quader to refrain from carrying out party activities.
The bench passed the order following a revision petition filed by the JP chief challenging the lower court order, his lawyer Sheikh Muhammed Serajul Islam told The Daily Star.
He said the HC also issued a rule questioning the legality of the lower court's injunction order.
On November 16, a Dhaka court in an order said the injunction barring Quader from making any political decision of the party would remain in force and therefore he could not make any political decision.
Earlier on October 31, another Dhaka court issued an injunction barring the JP chief from taking any political decision regarding the party.
The injunction came following an application filed by former JP lawmaker Ziaul Haque Mridha.