Opposition Jatiya Oikya Front electoral alliance faces rift

Dhaka, July 24 – The future of Dr Kamal Hossain-led Jatiya Oikya Front looks bleak as its partners have started following a ‘go-alone policy’ amid deepening misunderstanding among themselves over various issues. After the December-30 election, that the JOF rejected as rigged, top alliance leaders decided to boycott the Parliament and be active on the streets with various programmes to force the government to hold fresh polls.
The alliance leaders had a decision that its MPs-elect would not take oath, but BNP and Gonoforum moved away from it by sending their MPs to parliament, creating a misunderstanding among the alliance partners.
But it could not come up with an effective political programme, except holding a ‘mass hearing on the polls’ submitting a memorandum to the Election Commission, visiting a victim of rape, committed in the night following the polls, in Noakhali’s Subarnachar and staging a human chain programme in the capital.
Even, no meeting of Oikya Front’s steering and coordination committee was held over the last one and a half months because of the unwillingness of its components.
Getting frustrated over the inaction of the alliance and inconsistencies in it, Abdul Kader Siddiqui-led Krishak Sramik Janata League quit the Oikya Front on July 8.
The top leaders of other components, including BNP and Gonoforum, who are still with it, have no clear answer on the future of Oikya Front.
At a press conference of Gonoforum on Monday in the city, journalists repeatedly wanted to know from Dr Kamal about the future of Jatiya Oikya Front and reason behind its inaction over various issues, including current flood, but he parried the questions insisting that it was their election alliance.
“Oikya Front was formed with some political parties ahead of the election on political consideration. But, I think, people’s unity, not the Jatiya Oikya Front, is important to tackle it (flood).” The unity of not only a few parties but also that of all parties and people is necessary to overcome the situation.”
A Gonoforum leader close to Dr Kamal said a distance between Gonoforum and BNP has created over some issues. “Sir (Kamal) is unhappy with BNP as the party still didn’t leave Jamaat. Besides, he doesn’t want to run the alliance as per Tarique Rahman’s suggestion, but BNP wants to do so.”
He also said Dr Kamal got angry as BNP activists at a discussion programme at the Jatiya Press Club tried to force him to mention Ziaur Raman’s name by creating a pandemonium.
Under the circumstances, the Gonoforum leader said, “Kamal Hossain is trying to reorganise his own party with various programmes, like member collection drive programme and a seminar on Bangabandhu in August.”
Contacted, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said their party is now busy reorganising its own party machine.
Replying to a question about Oikya Front ’s future, he said, “The alliance has no programme now. We’ll sit in talks with the alliance leaders at a convenient time to talk about its future and next course of action.”
Asked whether he supports Dr Kamal’s remark that Oikya Front is an election alliance, Fakhrul declined to make any comment.
However, a BNP standing committee member, wishing anonymity, said they are trying to back off from the Oikya Front as their grassroots have no interest in it.
“Our party rank and file has lost interest in Oikya Front for various reasons, including Dr Kamal Hossain’s dubious role. He is unwilling to talk against the government and raise the demand for the release of our chairperson. Even, at the political meetings of Oikya Front, he always praises Bangabandhu but never mentions the name of our founder Ziaur Rahman. It only hurts our party men,” he said.
The BNP leader said their party is now focusing on strengthening its organisational capacity to mount pressure on the government to free Khaleda Zia from jail. “We’re now holding rallies at different divisions to invigorate our grassroots. We’ll take some other programmes after eid. So, we’re not thinking about the future of Oikya Front now, and not even the 20-party.”
The BNP leader said they do not want to draw any conclusion about the future of the alliance as Khaleda Zia will take the decision on it once she is freed from jail.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal general secretary Abdul Malek Ratan said they are doubtful about the future of Oikya Front as the alliance has become inactive. “Overall, the sign is not good.”
He said their party is now busy making preparations for holding its next council in the last week of October.
On October 13 – 47 days before the last general elections – the BNP, the Gono Forum, Nagorik Oikya, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and Jatiya Oikya Prokriya floated the anti-government alliance, Jatiya Oikya Front, led by Kamal Hossain. Kader Siddiqui’s party formally joined it on November 5, 2018.
The alliance took part in the December-30 national election using BNP’s election symbol, the Sheaf of Paddy and got only eight seats — BNP six and Gonoforum two.
The BNP and the Gono Forum changing their earlier stances decided to allow their MPs to join Parliament as the prospect of a strong anti-government movement soon looked not bleak with a view to remaining active both inside the legislative body and outside. But this distanced them from other alliance partners who had no representation in Parliament. – GW News Desk with UNB