Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad yesterday said a new polarisation may emerge in politics for the sake of national interest ahead of the upcoming parliamentary election.
He also said there is no atmosphere for polls at present and it is not clear whether the election will be held though his party is ready for the race.
The former military dictator was addressing a rally at the capital's Suhrawardy Udyan, organised by JP-led United National Alliance, comprised of 58 political parties.
“A new polarisation may emerge in the interest of the country, and we will proceed responding to the demands of time,” said Ershad, also a special envoy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“There is a lot of confusion and concern over the election,” he observed and called upon the government to ensure a congenial atmosphere for polls.
In an oblique reference to the recently formed Jatiya Oikyafront, he said, “One party has come up with a seven-point demand which cannot be fulfilled in the present context.”
The demands of the Oikyafront, led by Dr Kamal Hossain, include dissolution of parliament before announcement of polls schedule, resignation of Hasina-led government and formation of a neutral government to hold the national election.
“In this situation,” Ershad said, “It is not clear whether election will take place.”
He added, “We want to take part in the election. But first we want guarantee that the election will be held in a free, fair and impartial manner.”
The JP boss also demanded that a polls-time government be formed with political parties having representatives in parliament.
At the rally, Ershad unveiled his party's 18-point election manifesto aimed at “ensuring good governance in the country”.
The manifesto includes forming provincial governments, bringing changes to election system, introducing an organised upazila system, ensuring road safety, initiating peaceful co-existence in politics and establishing an independent judiciary.
Urging the party leaders and activists to take preparations for polls, he said the UNA led by the JP will contest the elections in all the 300 constituencies.
"I clearly say that we want to contest the polls in 300 seats. We, the Jatiya Party, always take part in elections. We are also ready to contest this national election. Jatiya Party will go to power with the love of people if election is held in a free and fair manner.”
Ershad also asked top leaders of party and allies to give him a list of potential candidates as the nominations will be finalised by this month.
Terming himself the most repressed politician in the world's history, Ershad said, “I couldn't sleep even for a single night after 1990 [when his regime fell] in fear of landing in jail again.”
Before the rally began at 10:45am, JP activists and supporters started pouring in the venue from 8:00am. By the time Ershad appeared on the dais around 11:30am, the crowd spilled out into the surrounding areas.
Although UNA is an alliance of 58 political parties, leaders of only three to four parties were seen at the event.
At one point of the rally, activists of JP and its ally Khelafat Majlish among the crowd got engaged in a brawl and threw chairs at each other centring a debate over a cultural performance held before the main event, insiders said.
Khelafat and JP men got locked into an altercation also over sitting on the front row of the audience just before the stage. The situation didn't deteriorate further due to intervention of senior leaders.
The gathering was addressed by JP Senior Co-chairman Raushan Ershad, Co-chairman GM Quader and top leaders of Islami Front, Khelafat Majlish and Jatiya Islami Mohajote.
An unpleasant situation was created over delivering of speech by Quader as JP presidium member Kazi Feroz Rashid objected to it, saying the co-chairman was not on the list of speakers.
Feroz also wanted to speak at the rally. As JP presidium members Ziauddin Ahmed and Foysal Chisty stepped in, he didn't insist further.