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21 October, 2018 10:35:51 AM

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Who will be the winning horse in this political race?

There was dialogue between BNP and the United Front about the nity between them, but the political circle was sure that if BNP did not disassociate with Jamaat there will be no direct unity but a working relationship between the two fronts
Abdul Gaffar Choudhury
Who will be the winning horse in this political race?

The month of October this year is a magical month for political development. The 'national unity process' by Dr.

Kamal Hossain and Dr. Badrudozza started before this month. It was an expected event. The political circle of Bangladesh knew that these two leaders would try to establish a united front to oust Hasina government from the power. The largest opposition party BNP may or may not join the election. If they joined they might have a simultaneous movement against the government but no direct unity. Because of the differences of political opinion between BNP and the proposed united front over Jamaat's connection with BNP, everybody was sure that the proposed united front leaders, especially Dr. Kamal Hossain (who was sensitive about Jamaat and Tareq Rahman), would join hands with BNP only if they disassociated with Jamaat.
There was dialogue between BNP and the united front about the unity between them, but the political circle was sure that if BNP did not disassociate with Jamaat there will be no direct unity but a working relationship between the two fronts. This month of October, however, has brought a magical development in the political situation. Dr. Badrudozza was left out from the national unity process and under the leadership of Dr. Kamal a national unity front was formed with the direct participation of BNP and Jamaat. Everybody in Bangladesh is astounded by how this could happen. How could Dr. Kamal Hossain stab Dr. B. Chowdhury at the back and join hands with BNP, which is still very close with Jamaat? Although Tareq Rahman has been convicted of the grenade attack case he is still the leader of BNP. So, how could Dr. Kamal Hossain accept both Tareq Rahman and Jamaat as his political ally? Only a few months ago he questioned the capability and acceptability of Tareq Rahman as a leader.

My friend Shiv Shankar Acharya, an Indian journalist from Delhi asked me, ’Could you solve the puzzle of Bangladesh politics especially the recent events of forming the national unity front under Dr. Kamal Hossain minus Dr. Badrudozza? Do you think this unity front could be popular and challenge Awami League?' I simply replied that this unity front is neither popular nor a challenge to the Awami League government. Awami League is unnecessarily giving importance to this front and Dr. Kamal Hossain. Otherwise, Dr. Kamal Hossain is a toothless tiger in Bangladesh politics and those who have now become his political associates like ASM Rab and Mahmudur Rahman Manna they are also political orphans and they will not add any strength to this newly formed front.

The ultimate beneficiary of this new development are BNP and Jamaat. Though they are the biggest opposition party in Bangladesh, recently they have become headless chicken. Their two top leaders Begum Khaleda Zia and Tareq Rahman both are convicted by the highest court of the country- one for corruption and other for murder. According to democratic norms they cannot remain in the leadership of their party. But the situation is such that they will not resign from the leadership of the party and the party also has no guts to ask them to accept the present reality and step down from the leadership at least for the time being.

I informed Acharya that my information is that this entire game of leaving out  Dr. B. Chowdhury and putting Dr. Kamal Hossain as the head of the unity front- a combination of BNP and Jamaat was a clever ploy of Tareq Rahman. He knew that Dr. B. Chowdhury was the founder leader of BNP. Although he has left the party, he still holds great influence among the party's rank and file. If he remains in the unity front as a top leader he might become a challenge to Tareq Rahman's leadership. But Kamal Hossain is not a challenge for him as he was never a leader of BNP. He is not politically strong and by joining this front with some faceless associates he would become a fox without a tail.

In reality BNP is the biggest partner in the unity front and the real leadership will be in the hands of Tareq Rahman. He will be able to guide and run the front by sitting in London and would easily control Dr. Kamal Hossain because Dr. Kamal has neither political strength nor any large number of followers. The national unity front will be another small partner of 20 party alliance under the leadership of BNP and Jamaat. Knowing this truth BNP leaders at the beginning of the unity talks declared that they are ready to accept the leadership of Dr. Kamal Hossain. That time also they did not include the name of Dr. B. Chowdhury.

Recently a telephone conversation between Mahi Chowdhury, the son of Dr. B. Chowdhury and Mahmudur Rahman Manna suddenly came to light and got wide publicity. In this conversation Mahi Chowdhury was repeatedly complaining to Manna that this was a great conspiracy against his father. Mahmudur Rahman Manna was defensive and could not properly reply to the allegations of Mahi Chowdhury. Chowdhury Jr. did not explain the nature of the conspiracy but it was easy to understand who the conspirators were. This conspiracy once again reveals the truth that Dr. Kamal Hossain has not taken any lessons from his past failures. The Jamaat, which he hated all his life and treated 'as the defeated enemy of the Independence war of 71' has now become their great ally. On the other hand, his loathing against Tareq Rahman's leadership did not prevent him from making alliance with a party, where Tareq is the leader. In the alliance by virtue of his great majority Tareq will guide the front and become its defacto leader, and Dr. Kamal Hossain will remain its titular head only.

There is a proverb that -an empty vessel sounds much. In the beginning when Kamal Hossain's so-called national unity and Dr. B. Chowdhury's national united front started the planning for merging and starting the process of joint movement it had an impact on the electoral politics of Bangladesh. Now it is proved that this unity is a farce and actually the newly formed national unity front is nothing but the extension of BNP's 20-party alliance. My observation is that this unity front has lost its importance and it will not be a big challenge for Awami League.

The only solace for us from this unity is that now it is certain that BNP will participate in the election. This unity front will face the challenge when the selection of candidates will start. BNP will naturally get the upper hand in selecting their nominees as they are the biggest partner of the alliance. Though there is no possibility but if by chance the unity wins the election Tareq Rahman will openly come out to take the leadership of the parliamentary party. His conviction and other hindrances to come back to the country will perhaps be removed conveniently. Even his victorious party may arrange to win a by election without contest like Khwaja Nazimuddin in 1948. Then he will be able to claim the post of prime ministership. I doubt if Dr. Kamal will be offered even the post of the President. Either he will have to remain in the alliance under Tareq's leadership and the dominance of Jamaat, or he will have to quit the alliance with a broken heart. I told my Indian journalist friend that I do not wish such a tragic end for Dr. Kamal Hossain but I fear the ending of his political career would not be mourned by anyone.

London, Thursday 18 October, 2018

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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