Zia parts ways with Islamists after poll debacle

January 11th, 2009 - 12:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 11 (IANS) The “nationalists” and “Islamists” in Bangladesh are to go their separate ways following last month’s massive poll defeat, media reports said Sunday. Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by the country’s two-term prime minister Khaleda Zia and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) “will now work from their own standpoint”, said BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain.

He said the four-party alliance of the BNP, JeI and a conglomerate of minor Islamist parties was formed “for elections only”.

“From now on, we’ll work from our own standpoint,” said Hossain.

Political analysts said the parting could be tactical in view of the poll defeat and the blame-game that it has triggered.

Many defeated BNP candidates have said the alliance with the Islamists pushed the young voters away from the alliance and want separation.

Hossain is factually wrong in that the alliance had won the 2001 parliamentary poll and had shared power for five years. With 18 lawmakers, the Jamaat had two ministers holding key portfolios. Jamaat’s Amir (chief) Motiur Rahman Nizami was the country’s industry minister for five years.

Hossain said the BNP and its ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami “will work from their respective platforms in present political context”, New Age newspaper said Sunday.

Nizami and Jamaat secretary general Ali Ahmed Mujaheed lost the last election and the party bagged only two seats.

The BNP that enjoyed a two-thirds majority in the eighth parliament won only 27 seats.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who won the election had time and again accused the BNP and Jamaat of promoting Islamist extremism and militancy during their five year rule.

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