Jatiya Party is still doubtful about what Awami League is going to do with it over sharing seats in the upcoming general election as a closed-door meeting between the two parties could not resolve the issue.
While Jatiya Party wanted that 50 seats are kept aside for its candidates and there should not be any AL contenders there, the ruling party refused to entertain the demand, sources said.
Awami League did not agree to withdraw their contenders as it wants to make the polls more competitive with the participation of candidates of all contesting parties.
However, it may extend support to Jatiya Party candidates in specific constituencies – 30 at best, the sources added.
“That’s why AL and Jatiya Party candidates will have to contest the polls with their respective electoral symbols to show the election as competitive. However, the ruling party may extend support to our candidates in specific seats,” a Jatiya Party leader said, wishing anonymity.
“Our past experience about Awami League is not good. It’s difficult to say before getting any concrete results what will happen,” another senior leader told the Daily Sun about seat sharing.
The leaders of both parties held a closed-door meeting at the Gulshan residence of AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif on Wednesday night and discussed the election.
The meeting was veiled in secrecy with both parties being reluctant to speak about it.
AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader led the ruling party team while Jatiya Party Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu and Senior Co-Chairman Anisul Islam Mahmud were present on behalf of their party.
Insiders said Jatiya Party leaders placed some proposals over the upcoming general election, and demanded 50 seats and withdrawal of AL candidates from those.
However, AL did not agree with all the proposals and to give more than 30 seats, the sources added.
A Jatiya Party leader further said AL may extend support to their candidates in Dhaka – Co-Chairman Syed Abu Hossain Babla in Dhaka-4, Co-Chairman Kazi Firoz Rashid in Dhaka-6 and party Chairman GM Quader’s wife Sherifa Quader in Dhaka-18.
“However, it has not been decided yet who will be the leader of the opposition in parliament and who will be the deputy leader of the opposition,” he added.
Jatiya Party tried to keep the meeting secret and refused to admit the matter of seat sharing to avoid the impression that the election is a stage-managed one. “If the matter of seat sharing comes to light, it might seem that the election is stage-managed,” the Jatiya Party leader said.
Talking to the Daily Sun, a number of Jatiya Party candidates said they are still doubtful about AL motive as it is patronising Trinamool BNP and Bangladesh Nationalist Movement (BNM) for the election.
Chunnu claimed that they do not care about sharing seats with AL, saying the ruling party will come to make understanding with them for its own interest.
“If Jatiya Party finally boycotts the election, Awami League will fall in a fresh crisis over the polls. They must make understanding with us,” a Presidium member of the party said, preferring anonymity.
Babla said there will be understanding by 10 December as the leaders of the two parties will sit again soon.
Addressing a briefing at their party’s Banani office in the capital on Thursday, Chunnu said they discussed the way of holding the election in a peaceful manner so that voters can go to polling centres and exercise their franchise freely.
“The AL leaders showed a positive attitude during the meeting. However, given our past experience of local government unit polls and different by-polls, we have confusion about holding a fair election,” he said.
The Jatiya Party secretary general claimed that they do not need to discuss the seat sharing as they are confident that anything revolutionary may happen in the election like 1991 if voters can go to polling stations and cast their votes freely.