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Islamic allies not worried about BNP’s changing gesture

Mubin S Khan

Islamic parties that are partners in the BNP-led alliance are not worried about the BNP’s changing attitude towards its right wing allies.
A number of media reports in recent days have claimed that the BNP is reconsidering its ties with its Islamic allies, especially the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.
The reports came on the back of the European Union resolution adopted on January 16 that asked the BNP to sever its ties with Jamaat and Hefazat-e-Islam.
Leaders of some of the Islamic parties in the electoral alliance also played down their absence during the BNP rally on Wednesday, saying that it was an exclusive rally for the BNP and and they had been informally invited to attend.
They also claimed that they were not taking ‘seriously’ the speculation about the BNP quitting its religion-based allies and thought that the BNP was being forced into such a gesture ‘because of international pressure.’
‘We think that the BNP has become dependent on international powers and is, therefore, giving such indications,’ said Abdul Quader, general secretary of Khelafat Majlis.
‘We are not taking this seriously but we will still sit with them on it,’ he said. Quader added that he did not think that the BNP would eventually take such a step.
‘If the BNP is to do politics in this country and if it has to go out to people to seek votes, it can never abandon the religious sentiment involved in our politics,’ he said. ‘It is right now just being shy about the relationship because of political pressure.’
The Islami Oikya Jote chief, Abdul Latif Nizami, meanwhile, said that reports that they were not present at the BNP rally was incorrect and that they had been invited there. Asked about the EU resolution asking the BNP to sever ties with Jamaat and Hefazat, he said that it was the BNP’s own decision if it wanted to quit Jamaat.
‘Hefazat is not a political party. It is a platform of ulema. So, there is no question of severing ties with Hefazat,’ he said.
‘The BNP, the Awami League and the Jatiya Party all have ties with it to varying degrees,’ he added.
‘The tie with the BNP is simply an electoral alliance,’ said Mujibur Rahman, co-chairman of Jamiat-ul-Ulema Bangladesh, another member of the BNP-led alliance. ‘The tie with the BNP is temporary. It is nothing permanent. It can quit whenever it wants. We are not worried,’ he added.
The Bangladesh Khelefat Andolan organising secretary Fakhrul Islam, also a prominent member of Hefazat-e-Islam, however, said that the EU resolution was a new conspiracy hatched by the west to rid the country of Islamic politics.
‘The BNP has now joined the conspiracy to carry out Manmohan’s [Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh’s] agenda,’ said Fakhrul, whose party is not a formal member of the BNP-led alliance.
‘They will not survive if they go ahead with this,’ he added.
Leaders and officials of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami were not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

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