Jatiya Oikya Prokriya chief Dr Kamal Hossain has forged a new anti-government alliance with the BNP, leaving out an ally, AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, in growing signs of political rifts among splinter groups.
Rebuffed by its allies, Bikalpadhara led by Badruddoza has accused the Kamal-led alliance, Jatiya Oikya Prokriya, of creating barriers in building a campaign against the ruling Awami League.
Bikalpadhara also announced its decision not to support any meeting between the alliance and the BNP.
“If the Jatiya Oikya Prokriyas only goal is to bring the BNP back to power, we will not be part of it,” Bikalpadhara said at a media briefing in Baridhara on Saturday.
Bikalpadhara also said the BNP failed to shun “anti-liberation forces” -- one of the major demands by Badruddoza.
The open criticism of the alliance by Bikalpadhara came as Dr Kamal and his other allies, including BNP leaders, were holding a separate press conference in another part of the city.
Speaking at the press conference, Badruddoza said his own alliance Jukto Front, formed in December last year, is still intact.
Dr Kamals alliance was joined by JSD President ASM Abdur Rab and Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna at a news conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka.
Mahi, joint secretary general of Bikalpadhara, portrayed their participation as an “extramarital affair”.
Mahi alleged that Jatiya Oikya Prokriyas various decisions were taken without consulting with Bikalpadhara. "We wanted to unite, but there was a barrier.”
“We didnt have prior information about a programme organised on Sept 22; a joint statement was declared, which we did not know earlier. A human chain programme was announced without informing us.”
Recalling a meeting held on Oct 9 at Rabs home, he said: “There was an undesirable incident. But for the sake of a greater alliance, we kept quiet.”
On seven demands made by the alliance, the Bikalpadhara leader said that they were in the dark until they were announced. We all agreed that the decision should be finalised after discussions with Badruddoza Chowdhury and Dr Kamal Hossain.
Accordingly, he said Gono Forum General Secretary Mostafa Mohsin Montu invited Bikalpadhara to a meeting at Dr Kamals home on Saturday.
When they drove to Dr Kamals home, they found the gate locked and eventually departed after waiting in the car for some time. “There isnt even anyone to open the gate.”
“This is an insult,” said Mahi, son of Badruddoza, also a former president.
Badruddoza said: “We were very happy when Kamal Hossain wanted to join us in our efforts to forge a national unity. The BNP secretary general had been in contact with us for more than a year ago. He met us five to six times.”
“We have attached two conditions: the BNP must shun anti-liberation forces and there will be no absolute domination by any party.”
The new alliance led by Kamal Hossain has been renamed Jatiya Oikya Front.
Declaring the new alliance, Kamal said: “We are happy to inform that we have united not for any party but for the nation and its 160 million people. We begin the journey of Jatiya Oikya Front today to establish peoples rights. Hope this will be successful.”
“I hope that pro-liberation forces, organisations, professionals, human-rights organisations and civil society leaders will be associated with this Oikya Front."
Leaders of the Jatiya Oikya Front will tour Chattogram, Sylhet and Rajshahi immediately, said Rab.
The seven demands by the newly formed alliance are:
>> To hold a free and fair election, the government must step down; parliament must be dissolved and an election-time neutral government must be formed following discussions. Khaleda Zia must be freed. The government must withdraw all cases against her and other BNP leaders and activists.
>> Reforms to the EC with the appointment of people acceptable to all parties through discussions. Electronic voting machines must not be used in the election.
>> Ensure freedom of speech for individuals, newspapers and electronic and social media, and all political parties meetings and rallies.
>> Withdraw all cases against students involved in the protests for reforms to the quota system in government jobs and road safety measures, and against the journalists “charged for expressing their views”. Scrap all black laws, including Digital Security Act.
>> Deploy the army with judicial powers to all polling stations from 10 days before the election to the formation of the government after the polls. Hand over the control of law enforcers to the Election Commission before the polls.
>> Local and international monitors must be allowed to observe the elections without any hindrance.
>> Halt proceedings of all political cases between the announcement of the schedule and the election results. Police must not file any new case against politicians.