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Joining parliament has saved BNP from split and its politics

Faruque Ahmed
Five BNP MPs have joined parliament early this month except party secretary generalyet another MP staying out of parliament. Mirza Fakhrul Islam has said it is part of the party’s new strategy to save the party from a split reportedly pushed by the government from behind and also to save the integrity of party politics now sailing through rough stormy political weather.
Of them four are AbdusSattarBhuiyan (Brahmanbaria-2), Harunur Rashid (Chapainawabganj-3), Mosharrof Hossain (Bogura-4) and Aminul Islam (Chapainawabganj-2).SangshadSpeaker Shirin SharminChaudhury administered the oath at her parliament office on April 29 afternoon.
Earlier Zahidur Rahman (Thakurgaon-3) took oath, defying party decision becoming the first BNP MP to do so and was immediately expelled.Fakhrul said on this occasion that they were under pressure from the government to take oath, although Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina dismissed the claim only hours later.
But BBC Bangla and a Bengali daily also quoted Harunur Rashid, one of the MP elects and one party joint secretaryas saying that there was indeed pressure from the government for BNP MPs to take oath and join parliament. It was important for the government to remove the legitimacy question on the parliament.
Immediately after taking oath speaking to parliament Harunur Rashid called upon the government to release the party chief Begum KhaledaZia . BNP said their joining is part of a strategy now to fight for her release from inside parliament and outside.
Many believe there might be some understanding that Begum Zia may be released as part of a bargain for joining BNP MPs parliament. But Awami League leaders have publicly denied it so far and only next moves may clear the situation.
Meanwhile the way BNP has taken the decision to join parliament has caused fury among its alliance partners and even within senior party leaders. Jatiya Party chairman Barrister Andaleb Rahman has already left the alliance while Gonoforunm partners voiced critical on such decision.
But two Gonoforum MPs Sultan Mohammad Mansur and Mokabbir Khan have also joined parliament defying the party decision and were expelled. In the changed situation the party has however withdrew expulsion order on Mokabbir while Mansur has been told he can return to party.
The fact is that the country’s political system is in total chaos at the moment when the government is using the absolute power to keep the opposition parties in total disarray and make them submissive to the whims of the ruling party. Democracy is not allowed to function; there is no legal or ethical ground for politics to claim link with common people.
So despite strong party decision not to join parliament five BNP MPs have taken oath and joined parliament after 90 days of the 11th parliament went into session on January 30. It was totally unthinkable at a time when BNP and its greater political front Gonoforum leaders had denounced the December election as fake,flawed and a product of massive vote rigging. They had vowed not to become part of it.
But things took U turn at the end of April when one BNP lawmaker took oath defying the party decision while speculations were high that four others are planning to join. The party faced yet another big crisis how to save the party from a split when it was also difficult to resist them as well as to take a decision to join parliament.
Saving party unity becomes all the more important for BNP when government pressure was high on the party in one hand and what politics BNP has in store in the present volatile political landscape on the other makes a party decision highly critical.
Party leaders have always told party grass root that this parliament is not elected by people and it appeared difficult now to win their support to change the policy and join parliament. For some days BNP people all over were totally confused. The last decision stands like this: MPs were allowed to join parliament while party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir MP elect from Thakorgaon refrained from taking oath to symbolize defiant party politics.
Reports said almost all senior party leaders were opposed to joining parliament but party acting chairman Tarique Rahman then intervened to bring the party out of the growing chaos. He listened to three MPs in one-to-one telephone talks and knew their mindset.
They argued that party politics is now hanging in a limbo and must change. Their joining may play a big role to free BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia now languishing in jail for the last 15 months. Tariquecould realize a split of the party was closer at a time when one party MP has already taken oath and has been expelled and more expulsionsare knocking at the door. But expulsion is the remedy.
BNP insiders say Tarique was quite aware of the government design to destroy the major opposition party using the MPs elect to split out from party. Democracy has been destroyed in the country, rule of law has disappeared, public institutions have been dysfunctional and the only thing left to be done is to destroy BNP as the major opposition party. He can’t see it to happen.
Tarique then sought opinion of his mother and she signaled for allowing MPS to take oath and change the front line party politics hanging uncertain in its present form. Senior party leaders were almost in the dark but when the party acting chairman made the decision public they had nothing to do, they had also no effective argument opposing it. BNP has definitely played a smart political U turn which has saved the party and politics together.
“We have come to parliament to take oath in line with the party decision, especially on instructions from Tarique Rahman,” Harunur Rashid, said justifying their joining. Replying to a query from the press, he said they did not join parliament to give it legitimacy.
There is no rule of law and good governance in the country. An anarchic situation is prevailing in the country at present. “We have come to parliament to speak the truth. The country is in crisis. This parliament has been formed through vote-rigging, he said reiterating the party stand following the December election. The government will have to fix it.”
Later Mirza Fakhrul said they opted to join parliament to speak about democracy and Khaleda Zia’s release.“Decisions may change in politics,” he said.Party sources said their joining the House was part of a negotiation with the government to release Khaleda Zia from jail. Fakhrul said joining parliament is part of their movement to free Begum Zia from jail.

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