In this file photo, incarcerated BNP chief Khaleda Zia, left, seen sharing a light moment with members of her alliance partner, then Jamaat-e-Islami chief, Matiur Rahman Nizami, right, and one of the top leaders back then, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, centre, at a rally in Dhaka Courtesy
Brass considers changing party’s name
Jamaat-e-Islami, the hardline Islamist political party that lost its registration last year, is unwilling to leave its two-decade long partnership with BNP.
In the latest meeting of the party’s central decision-making body, the Majlish-e-Shura, the party’s top brass took no decisions to leave the 20-party Alliance, contrary to what some media reports said, Shura members told the Bangla Tribune.
However, they decided not to take part in the upcoming upazila council elections and mulled a proposal to change the party’s name.
Bangla Tribune spoke to five Shura members, from Dhaka, Sylhet, Feni and Khulna, who confirmed these decisions.
The members said the meeting of the Shura took place in mid-January in 13 different places across the country, as “situations did not permit” holding a single meeting.
They said there were disagreements within the executive council of the party over the upazila elections, and the party Amir Maqbul Ahmad asked for the Majlish-e-Shura’s opinion.
The majlish went against taking part in the polls. Some members also proposed changing the party’s name, though others opposed it. The decision will be finalized at the central executive council.
The members said the majority of members wanted the change in name, in light of the current political atmosphere. It had been left to the executive council to decide what the new name would be.
The government is pursuing avenues for putting Jamaat, a party whose former leaders have been convicted of crimes against humanity in the Liberation War of 1971, on trial for the same.
Asked about this, Jamaat Shura and Sylhet regional committee member Maolana Habibur Rahman said: “The government has been talking about that for a long time. We are busy with organizational activities. We do not think about these things.”
Advocate Eshanul Mahbub Zubayer, a member of the central executive council, said Jamaat was keenly observing the issue.
“We will counter through legal avenues. But I do not think the government will ban Jamaat. We have been represented in every parliament in this country.”
Jamaat has an appeal pending with the High Court over its cancelled registration at the Election Commission.
The Shura also did not give out any decisions on leaving the 20-party Alliance. Party leaders said Jamaat would not take up the burden of making this call. If BNP wants the alliance to end, it will have to take the first step.
Central Shura member Golam Mostafa said: “Jamaat has taken no decision to leave the alliance.”
He said the Shura meetings took place in mid-January and there had been no discussion on this matter.
Maolana Habibur Rahman, the outgoing amir of Sylhet south unit of the party, said Jamaat would not leave the alliance.
“BNP might, if they want,” he said.
Eshanul Mahbub Zubayer said: “When the Jatiya Oikya Front was formed, there ws a discussion. The 20-party alliance is a partnership of election and movement. Jamaat is in the alliance. Our decision to not go to the upazila polls is the alliance’s decision.
“There have been no official decisions on leaving the BNP-led alliance.”
Professor Emajuddin Ahmed, a prominent pro-BNP intellectual who maintains a strong position on leaving Jamaat, said: “Yes we are discussing this matter. We cannot stay in Oikya Front and keep them around.”
The former Dhaka University vice-chancellor said: “It is good if they change their name. BNP is being called pro-Jamaat, which we are not.”
Oikya Front national steering committee member Zafrullah Chowdhury said: “Whether they want to change their name or not their first task would be to come clean – and apologize for their role in 1971.
“Then they can start fresh politics with a new name.”
BNP standing committee member Barrister Jamiruddin Sircar said he had no information on whether Jamaat wanted to leave BNP.
Jamaat suspends clause on democracy
A district level chief of the party said Jamaat had suspended the fourth clause of section 6 of its constitution. The section deals with the party’s permanent plan of action.
Clause 4 of section 6 requires the party to try to change the government by democratic means and establish the leadership of honest persons at all levels of the society.
A former Chhatra Shibir leader confirmed the matter. A Sylhet Jamaat leader said Jamaat had also made this decision two years ago.