BNP to keep ‘strategic’ distance from Jamaat

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Bangladesh Nationalist Party is likely to keep a ‘strategic distance’ from its major ally Jamaat-e-Islam in the face of ‘pressure’ different local and international quarters which castigated the politics of violence, the BNP sources said.
There is also pressure from inside the BNP to sever ties or at least keep its distance from Jamaat as many leaders and activists of the party did not want to share the blame of violence being carried out by Jamaat as well as its stigma of war crimes, the party insiders said.
As part of the process to distance itself from Jamaat, BNP may independently organise the ‘black flag procession’ on January 29 to avoid involving Jamaat in the programme as it did at Monday’s rally at Suhrawardy Udyan.
A mid-level leader close to the party’s decision-makers told New Age on Tuesday that Jamaat-e-Islami leaders were not invited to the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan considering the reality and pressure from both home and abroad for violent activities of the Islamist party.
In reply to a question, he said the black flag procession might be organised by BNP independently without Jamaat.
BNP standing committee member Mahbubur Rahman told New Age that the entire world was concerned both at the violence and the ‘one-sided’ election in Bangladesh.
He said the government should identify Jamaat if it carried out violence, and bring them to book. He said those who unleashed terror were miscreants.
In reply to a question, Mahbub, the former army chief, said BNP’s relation with Jamaat was ‘strategic, not permanent’. He said BNP was a party of freedom fighters, having its own ideology and its founder Ziaur Rahman had proclaimed independence while Jamaat had its own policies and ideology. So, the two parties should not be mingled, he observed.
BNP’s move to keep away from Jamaat was noticed at the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan on January 20 where Jamaat men were conspicuous by their absence.
Initially a programme of the BNP-led 18-party alliance, it turned out to be BNP’s own programme after it asked Jamaat not to attend the rally, according to some leaders of the alliance.
On January 15, BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia at a news conference in presence of leaders of the alliance, including Jamaat-e-Islami, had announced the rally at Suhrawardy Udayn to ‘thank’ the people for staging a ‘silent revolution’ on January 5 against snatching of voting rights and killing of democracy.
Khaleda also announced the ‘demonstration day’ for January 29 when the party would bring out ‘black flag’ procession across the country. She did not say whether these were BNP’s own programmes.
Later at a briefing on Sunday, BNP said that the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan was its ‘own programme’.
Ahmad Abdul Quader secretary general of Khelafat Majlish, a component of the alliance, told New Age on Tuesday that the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan on Monday was a programme of the alliance but could not say why and how it had turned into BNP’s own programme.
In reply to a question, he said he was invited to the rally but he could not attend it due to his ‘illness’.
Jamaat leaders could not be reached over phone for comments.
On January 16, the European Parliament in a resolution urged BNP to sever its ties with Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefajat-e-Islam.
A senior leader of BNP told New Age the party could not ignore the appeal of European Union to cut off relations with Jamaat and Hefajat.
A number of senior, mid-level and junior leaders of BNP told New Age that the party should not depend on Jamaat because BNP was capable enough of carrying out movement and come to power through general election. Some leaders, however, hold different views saying that the ties with Jamaat should not be cut off at the moment.
Meanwhile, a number of leaders and activists of BNP and its front and associate organisations expressed their satisfaction that the party had managed to organise a huge rally at Suhrawardy Udyan on Monday on its own. They also hailed the party’s move to avoid Jamaat.
In the recent past, BNP maintained strategic distance from Jamaat-e-Islami when the international crimes tribunals convicted Jamaat leaders for committing crimes against humanity in 1971.

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