The upcoming parliamentary elections in Bangladesh are poised to witness a significant impact from the emergence of new alliances among Islamist parties. Recently, pro-government Islamic parties have come together to form the Liberal Islami Jote alliance, comprising six parties with a history of alignment with the ruling Awami League.
Led by Maizbhandar Pir Syed Saifuddin Ahammad, the alliance aims to promote communal harmony and democratic practices while upholding the principles of Islam and the liberation war. The formation of this alliance, along with ongoing discussions with other interested parties, signifies a concerted effort to strengthen the participation of pro-government Islamic factions in the elections. With the potential withdrawal of the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the involvement of these alliances assumes even greater significance.
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Moreover, an alternative alliance initiative led by the Islami Andolon Bangladesh seeks to unite Qawmi madrasah-based parties, while the Jatiya Party’s role could also influence the electoral landscape. As Islamist parties hold considerable political significance in Bangladesh, their engagement with the ruling Awami League underscores a proactive approach to address their concerns and foster better relations. With these developments shaping the alliances and partnerships ahead of the elections, the political dynamics of the country are poised for a transformation that will reverberate throughout the upcoming polls.
Pro-govt Islamic parties form new alliance
In a significant development leading up to the upcoming parliamentary elections, pro-government Islamic parties in Bangladesh have formed a new alliance called the Liberal Islami Jote. The alliance currently consists of six parties, none of which are registered with the election commission. However, the leaders of the political entity have announced that eight more parties will join the alliance, with a formal announcement set to be made on 29 May.
Allies of the ruling Awami League
The six parties that have formed the Liberal Islami Jote alliance have a history of leaning towards the ruling Awami League or the AL-led Grand Alliance. These parties include the Bangladesh Supreme Party, Bangladesh Islami Oikyajote, Krishak Sramik Party, Ashekane Aulia Parishad, Bangladesh Ulema Mashayekh, and Bangladesh Islamic Democratic League. Farzana Huq, the granddaughter of Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Huq, leads the Krishak Sramik Party, while the other five parties are known as ‘Tarikatpanthi’ Islami parties.
Leadership and registration status
The chairman of the new alliance is Maizbhandar Pir Syed Saifuddin Ahammad. It is worth noting that another faction of Maizbhandar, known as Tariqat Federation, is registered with the election commission and is a component of the AL-led 14-party alliance. Misbahur Rahman Chowdhury, the executive chairman of the new alliance, is also the chairman of Bangladesh Islami Oikyajote. Notably, some of the parties in the alliance are expected to seek registration in the future, and among the parties they are in discussions with, there are already registered parties.
Formation of the alliance
According to sources, the decision to form the Liberal Islami Jote alliance was finalized after five years of discussions with like-minded parties. The alliance was officially formed at the office of the Bangladesh Supreme Party on 16 May. Furthermore, discussions are ongoing with eight other parties that have expressed interest in joining the alliance before 29 May.
Principles and objectives
Misbahur Rahman Chowdhury, the chairman of Bangladesh Islami Oikyajote and the executive chairman of the new alliance, stated that the alliance is based on the spirit of the liberation war and Islam. The alliance aims to be a platform for Tariqat and Qawmi alems (Islamic scholars) as well as individuals with modern education. It seeks to promote communal harmony and the practice of democracy, emphasizing its commitment to both the ideals of Islam and the principles of the liberation war.
Impact on upcoming elections
The formation of new alliances among Islamist parties is likely to have a significant impact on the upcoming parliamentary elections. The government has been making efforts to ensure the participation of pro-government Islamic and smaller parties in the elections. If the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), decides not to contest the elections, the participation of these parties will become even more crucial.
An alternative Islamist alliance initiative
In addition to the Liberal Islami Jote alliance, there is another initiative led by the Islami Andolon Bangladesh, the party of Charmonai Pir. This initiative aims to form an alliance of Qawmi madrasah-based parties, including parties outside the Islamist parties. While no final decisions have been made yet, the Islami Andolon Bangladesh is actively working towards forging this alliance.
Potential alliance with Jatiya Party
Another factor that could influence the upcoming elections is the Jatiya Party’s role. The ruling Awami League is considering grouping the Jatiya Party with Islamist parties, including the Zaker Party. However, the Jatiya Party chairman, GM Quader, has expressed the party’s desire to form an effective alliance this time, different from the “grand alliance” formed before the 2018 general elections.
The significance of Islamist parties
The Islamist parties hold considerable significance in the political landscape of Bangladesh. Among the 40 parties registered with the Election Commission, 10 are Islamist parties. Six of these are Qawmi madrasah-based parties, affiliated with Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, while the others belong to the Tarikat camp. Several of these parties have long-standing alliances with the ruling Awami League.
Awami League’s engagement with Islamist parties
The ruling Awami League has been actively engaging with Islamist parties as elections approach. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan has been seen attending events organized by various Islamist parties. He stated that the Awami League is making efforts to foster better relations with Islamic parties and is focused on addressing their concerns. The government’s proactive approach and measures to accommodate the interests of Islamist parties have led to improved relations between them.
As the parliamentary elections draw near in Bangladesh, the formation of new alliances among Islamist parties raises questions about their potential impact on the political landscape. With both the ruling Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party seeking to secure alliances and support, the role and preferences of Islamist parties become crucial. The alliances and partnerships formed among these parties will likely shape the dynamics of the upcoming elections and influence the overall political scenario in the country.