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4 leaders form new political alliance ‘Juktafront’

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FT ONLINE

Ending a long ride full of uncertainty and confusion, four minor political parties have at last formed a new alliance with former president and Bikalpadhara Bangladesh chief AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury as its chairman.

The coalition, named “Juktofront” [United Front], consists of Bikalpadhara, Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Janata League (KSJL), Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) and Nagorik Oikya.

The decision to announce the coalition’s formation was taken at a meeting of the top leaders of these parties at JSD President ASM Abdur Rab’s house in Dhaka’s Uttara on Monday night, said JSD General Secretary Abdul Malek Ratan.

Senior leaders of the four parties including Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh president and former president AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, Mahi B Chowdhury, Major (RT) Mannan, Krishak Sramik Janata League president Abdul Kader Siddique, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president ASM Abdur Rab and Nagarik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna were present at the meeting.

After the meeting, Badruddoza Chowdhury told reporters: “We’ve just sowed the seed of a platform of those who love the country and want to work for the betterment of the people. We welcome everyone who wants to join us.”

“This alliance has been formed to establish democracy in the country, ensure fair elections and find solutions to various crises,” he added.

Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said they were planning some programmes under the banner of the new alliance. He also said the combine leaders would place wreaths at the Martyred Intellectuals’ Graveyard at Mirpur on December 14.

Asked, he said the alliance was formed for “establishing democracy and ensuring people’s welfare. These components had held several meetings in the past.”

The four parties, along with Gano Forum, have long been working to form the new coalition outside of the country’s two existing major alliances – Awami League-led 14-party alliance and the BNP-led 20-party alliance – before the next general election.

However, last month, Dr Kamal Hossain-led Gano Forum had decided to opt out from the initiative and is not in the new alliance.

Regarding that, Manna said: “Dr Kamal Hossain, who is currently in Thailand, has said that he will not be in any alliance. That is why Gano Forum is not in this coalition.”

“BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has congratulated me and Badruddoza Chowdhury over phone over the formation of our coalition,” he added.

Badruddoza said: “We have been trying [to form this coalition] for a long time. This will not be a four-party or five-party alliance. We will ask to join us only those who believe in democracy and changing the fate of the people for the better.”

“Our door is open for all. This alliance is not limited to specific parties,” he added.

The chief of the newly formed United Front also said that Gano Forum was not in the alliance due to its own organisational policies. “But Kamal Hossain has told us that they will attend our programmes on invitations.”

Badruddoza, however, ducked a question on whether they would be nominating a candidate in the upcoming by-polls of the Dhaka North City Corporation, the mayor post of which fell vacant after the death of Annisul Huq last week.

“Do not ask such questions, please. People will not like this,” he said.

The coalition is also yet to decide whether they would participate in the 11th parliamentary election.

Ratan said Badruddoza, KSJL President Abdul Kader Siddique, Manna had arrived at Rab’s Uttara residence and started the meeting around 8:30pm Monday.

He added that the coalition would be officially launched in the country’s political arena through a press conference within a fortnight. “By then, the coalition will finalise its organogram and programmes.”

In the last five years, leaders of these parties held at least 10 meetings, but had failed to reach a consensus regarding the formation of the coalition and in selecting the person to lead it due to internal disagreements over leadership and ideological conflicts, according to sources.

Earlier, sources also said that the leaders were trying to form a coalition similar to the United Front, an alliance of political parties of erstwhile East Pakistan that contested and won Pakistan’s first provincial general election to the East Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1954.

One of the parties had also proposed to name the alliance after the historic United Front coalition, which existed before the 1971 Liberation War.

One of the leaders said that the coalition will have nine or 10 major objectives, which would include building a poverty-free nation, holding a transparent and participatory election, eradicating terrorism from the country, decentralising the administration, ensuring the death penalty for raping children and life imprisonment for raping women.

-SAM

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