Bangladeshi parties seek to close ranks against government
Apr 25, 2007 - 12:13:39 PM

Dhaka, April 25 - Burying traditional rivalry, Bangladesh's second rank political leaders are seeking to rally against a government that has virtually exiled one former prime minister and is trying to send the other out of the country.

While Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina has been literally stranded in London after being stopped from boarding the flight to Dhaka, efforts are on to send Bangladesh Nationalist Party - leader Khaleda Zia to Saudi Arabia with her family.

And a picture akin to the late 1980s is already being conjured up -- when parties closed ranks and jointly fought Gen. H.M. Ershad, eventually forcing him to step down in 1990.

As had happened then, the Left parties, whose grassroots support seldom translates into votes during elections, are helping in the process. Cementing the efforts is a statement by Hasina disapproving of the government's attempts to force Zia out of the country.

BNP leader Hannan Shah appreciated the statement and said it seemed that political parties might end up launching 'a simultaneous movement like the ones in the mid-80s'.

BNP joint secretary general and official spokesperson Nazrul Islam Khan added: 'We thank Sheikh Hasina for her good remarks about Khaleda Zia.'

The second tiers of leadership of the two major political parties seem to have started an identical process of consolidating their respective parties under the leaderships of Zia and Hasina though many of them are believed to be 'under intense pressure from certain powerful quarters' to dissociate with the two top leaders, New Age newspaper said.

The newspaper did not elaborate, but the closing of ranks comes amidst rumblings in both major parties where front ranking leaders ignored by the two women have become vocal.

The government is believed to have facilitated this. It has pressed a murder charge against Hasina while removing the names of several Awami League leaders from the first information report -.

Some Awami League leaders have also started contacting Hasina, now in London, for reconciliation within the party, party sources said.

Awami League presidium member Suranjit Sengupta told New Age that they 'are united under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. There would be no split within Awami League'.

A BNP standing committee member added that a move was underway to remove misunderstanding created between party chairperson Khaleda Zia and secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan.

'We are in touch with senior leaders of both Awami League and BNP so that the leaderships of the parties remain united,' a leader of a Left leaning party was quoted as saying.

'The political process here will be ruined if the conspiracy to split the two major parties becomes successful,' he said.

Asked about the ongoing 'political crisis' over the reported move to send Zia and Hasina into exile, adviser to the law, justice and parliamentary affairs ministry, Mainul Hosein, said Tuesday: 'It is too big a matter to talk. We - will sit together to discuss the issue.'

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