Friday, May 4, 2012

Crackdown brings BNP, Jamaat closer

The government's crackdown on BNP bigwigs seems to be helping bridge the gap that developed between the main opposition BNP and its key ally Jamaat-e-Islami after the last parliamentary polls. 

Jamaat leaders now plan to exploit the latest political developments in their favour, as they believe the crackdown on BNP leaders has given them an opportunity to get closer to BNP. 

Jamaat that opposed the country's independence has been facing a serious crisis following the arrests of its top leaders on charges of committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.

The latest situation has prompted BNP policymakers to reassess the party's strategy for reshaping ties with Jamaat to intensify anti-government agitations from June after the expiry of the 90-day deadline for the government to restore the caretaker government system. 

Jamaat, a key component of the BNP-led electoral alliance, is likely to be in a much better position to improve its relations with BNP in this fast-changing political situation. 

"We all nationalist forces including components of our alliance are now uniting to resist the government's repression. We will face it unitedly," ASM Hannan Shah, member of BNP standing committee, told The Daily Star yesterday. 

Police last week filed cases against opposition leaders and raided houses of some top BNP men in connection with hartal violence. Most BNP bigwigs went into hiding following the crackdown. 

Talking about the present political situation, Jamaat leader Mujibur Rahman said: "Our relation with BNP was strained but now it will take a solid shape." 

Mujibur, assistant secretary general of Jamaat, told The Daily Star yesterday that the relation between the two parties strengthens either when they both face repression or during the election. 

Asking not to be named, a BNP policymaker said the party had distanced itself from its major ally Jamaat since the debacle in the December 2008 parliamentary polls. There had been an anti-Jamaat opinion before the election for its role in the Liberation War. 

BNP gave a mild response when the government cracked down on top Jamaat leaders in mid-2010.
"The government should have respected BNP's strategy for maintaining distance from Jamaat. But the latest crackdown on our senior leaders will compel the party to get closer to Jamaat to resist the government's repression," said the BNP leader. 

Mahbubur Rahman, member of BNP standing committee, holds the government responsible for the present “volatile” political situation. 

"We do not have any alternatives but to gear up street agitations, along with the components of our alliance," Mahbub told The Daily Star. 

Jamaat Chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, its Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and three other senior leaders had been arrested on charges of committing crimes against humanity, since the government's crackdown on Jamaat leaders in mid-2010. 

The embattled Jamaat then turned to BNP for launching a joint movement. But BNP did not respond, and Khaleda reportedly refused to meet Jamaat leaders. 

Matiur Rahman Akanda, assistant publicity secretary of Jamaat, said yesterday that BNP had only sympathised with Jamaat at that time. 

"But BNP did not stand by us when the government launched a crackdown on our leaders. BNP's cold attitude towards us had created a gap between grassroots-level leaders of the two parties. The changed political situation will now close the gap," Akanda told The Daily Star. 

Leaders of other Islamic parties also echoed the views of Jamaat leaders. 

Abdul Latif Nezami, secretary general of Bangladesh Nezam-e-Islam Party, said the ties between BNP and other components of the alliance strengthened following the government's crackdown. 

"Communication between the alliance leaders has increased. We are now putting our heads together to devise a strategy to gear up anti-government movement," Nezami told The Daily Star. 

Ahlullah Wasel, press secretary of Islami Oikya Jote, said the activity of the BNP-led alliance was limited to holding meetings. But the recent political developments have given them the opportunity to get united against the government.