Saturday, October 16, 2004

Bangladesh: Brewing talks of split in BNP -Islamic coalition

[ Top leaders of the IOJ and BJP said days are not far when they will have to part with the BNP-Jamaat alliance. "We will not hesitate to quit the alliance because we have not been included either in cabinet or in any forum of the government," said an IOJ leader. An influential BNP leader admitted that a section of his party's high-ups believed if Jamaat remained with the BNP, no other party was of any consequence. But this is not realistic, he felt. Meanwhile, BNP sources said they have come to know the AL had 'secret and informal talks' with some top leaders of the IOJ and BJP. ]



Row over power-sharing dogs ruling coalition

IOJ, BJP threaten to boycott govt programmes

The longstanding commotion in the ruling four-party alliance over the crucial issue of power-sharing has intensified with two of its components threatening to boycott all government programmes from now on.

Alliance sources said discontent was brewing in the coalition as both factions of the Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ) and Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP) were not included in any government forum even more than three years into the alliance's coming to power.

A BNP policymaker admitted relations with the IOJ and BJP are getting increasingly strained and that it would be difficult to maintain unity of the coalition if the trend is not checked.

Top leaders of the IOJ and BJP said days are not far when they will have to part with the BNP-Jamaat alliance. "We will not hesitate to quit the alliance because we have not been included either in cabinet or in any forum of the government," said an IOJ leader.

Seeking anonymity, he said the BNP high command has been buying time for the last three years to include IOJ and BJP men in the cabinet or various government bodies, giving them ministerial status.

Referring to several meetings of top leaders of the alliance with BNP Chairperson and Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, the IOJ leader said each time the PM gave 'fresh commitment' to include representatives of all the alliance partners in development bodies at union and district levels and various other bodies but it ended up in nothing.

Talking to The Daily Star senior leaders of the IOJ and BJP said they have decided that from now on no top leaders of the two parties will attend any government or alliance programmes. They will send mid or lower level leaders to such programmes just to show their presence.

Sources mentioned leaders like chiefs of the two IOJ factions Azizul Haq and Fazlul Haq Amini MP, and BJP leaders Naziur Rahman Manjur and Kazi Firoz Rashid skipped several government programmes in recent days. But the BNP-Jamaat high-ups did not notice their absence nor inquired about it.

"Now we have no desire to join the cabinet because three years of coalition rule have already passed. But the government still can narrow down the ever widening gap with alliance partners IOJ and BJP through sharing of power at some levels, recognising their contribution in the anti-Awami League movement and the last general election," said a BJP leader.

An influential BNP leader admitted that a section of his party's high-ups believed if Jamaat remained with the BNP, no other party was of any consequence. But this is not realistic, he felt.

He said while the main opposition Awami League (AL) has already reached an understanding with the Workers Party and JSD (Inu) and is trying to build a greater opposition unity, many of the BNP leaders are reluctant even to maintain the existing unity of the alliance.

Most leaders of the IOJ and BJP said they will not bear any responsibilities of 'misdeeds, corruption and the failures' of the BNP-Jamaat rulers since their parties are not in the government.

Meanwhile, BNP sources said they have come to know the AL had 'secret and informal talks' with some top leaders of the IOJ and BJP.

The AL chief reportedly had a meeting with an important leader of the BJP abroad, where they discussed a possible split in the four-party alliance, among others issues, the sources said without giving details.

Daily Star 16/10/2004