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BNP won't cut Jamaat link

Published:2014-01-19 12:20:21    

Banglasongbad24: Despite mounting pressure at home and from abroad, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is unwilling to cut ties with the Jamaat-e-Islami for its vote banks and influence over some Islamic organisations in and outside the country.

Khaleda also fears that the ruling Awami League may join hands with the Jamaat if the BNP deserts the Islamist party, said BNP insiders.

The BNP chief values the Jamaat for its financial clout, and dedicated leaders and activists, who can play a key role in waging a vigorous agitation, they said.

BNP Senior Vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, elder son of the BNP chief, phoned her mother on Friday night and discussed the Jamaat issue, apart from other party-related matters, according to BNP sources.

On condition of anonymity, a Jamaat leader told The Daily Star last night that his party was under pressure for its involvement in recent political violence, and opted to distance itself from the BNP for now as part of a new strategy.

A leader of the BNP-led 18-party alliance said a pro-BNP professional body recently floated an idea that the Islamist party could stay with the BNP if it changed its name.

“But the Jamaat policymakers didn't take the suggestion positively. They think such a move will not bring an end to the government's oppression on the Jamaat men. And critics might say it is pouring old wine in a new bottle,” the alliance leader quoted a Jamaat policymaker as telling him over the phone.

A BNP assistant office secretary said he was aware of such a proposal that came in the face of international community's pressure on the BNP to cut ties with the Jamaat for its involvement in political violence.

BNP insiders and a number of 18-party combine leaders said the Jamaat has vote banks in more than 100 constituencies where BNP's success in elections depends on the Islamist party.

“The Jamaat also has vote banks in professional organisations of teachers, lawyers, doctors and journalists. It plays a big role in deciding who will be in the governing body,” said a BNP leader close to the Islamist party.
Moreover, Jamaat has influence on some Islamic organisations, including the Hefajat-e Islam that controls almost all Qawmi madrasas in the country.

Referring to the meeting of top leaders of the BNP-led combine on January 13, an alliance leader said, “Madam [Khaleda] seemed serious about maintaining relations with the Jamaat-e-Islami.”

“She even told us that it is up to people to judge whether BNP's ties with the Jamaat are good or bad. If they consider it bad, they can choose not to vote for us in polls,” said the leader.

In a resolution on Thursday, the European Parliament urged the BNP to cut ties with the Jamaat and Hefajat-e Islam, saying there should be a ban on political parties associated with “terrorist acts” in Bangladesh.
Pointing a finger at the Jamaat, it said, “Parties which turn to terrorist acts should be banned”.

Earlier on several occasions, foreign diplomats in Dhaka called upon Khaleda to sever relations with the Islamist party.

In a number of interviews with the foreign media after the January 5 polls, Khaleda said, “BNP's ties with the Jamaat are only strategic and nothing permanent.” source: The Daily Star