Following a series of hide and seek that continued for over two weeks, Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad finally left Dhaka for Singapore on Monday night for treatment.
Ershad, accompanied by Jatiya Party presidium member Ziauddin Ahmed and Ershad’s assistant private secretary M Monjurul Islam, left Dhaka in Singapore Airlines scheduled for 10:45pm, JP secretary general Moshiur Rahman Ranga told New Age.
During Ershad’s absence, newly appointed special assistant to the party chairman, also a presidium member, ABM Ruhul Amin Hawlader would lead the party, said an organisational order signed by Ershad on Saturday.
Like the previous elections, hide and seek regarding illness of Ershad, special envoy to prime minister Sheikh Hasina, continued for over two weeks as the party started bargaining with the ruling party Awami League over seat sharing.
Ershad, On December 6, in front of his office at Banani, said he was not allowed to go abroad though he badly needed to travel to Singapore as part of his routine check-up.
On the same day, Ershad’s younger brother, also party co-chairman, GM Quader told New Age that there was no embargo imposed by the government on Ershad travelling abroad. ‘He will go when his health would allow,’ he said.
Ershad, however, left the country a day after JP fielded candidates in 187 constituencies, including 29 allotted to it by coalition partner Awami League.
On Saturday night, Ershad took the decision to field 187 candidates after AL refused to leave 54 seats for JP, the minimum it had bargained for.
Though AL allotted 29 seats for JP in three constituencies, JP candidates would have to face triangular contests as AL had also nominated candidates in three of those constituencies.
For example, JP nominated Golam Kibria Tipu with the party’s plough symbol for Barisal 3, where Workers Party’s Tipu Sultan would contest with AL’s party symbol boat, said JP vice president Iqbal Hossain Raju.
In Tangail 5, JP nominated Shafiullah Al Monir would contest with AL nominated Sanowar Hossain while in Kurigram 1, JP nominated aspirant AKM Mostafizur Rahman, also a sitting MP, would have to face AL nominated M Aslam Hossain Sawdagar, he added.
The leaders of JP and its coalition partners of Sammilita Jatiya Jote criticised the JP leaderships for their failure in securing their interest while bargaining with Awami League leaders.
The failure of the JP leaderships, the aggrieved leaders said, made JP, its coalition partners of Jatiya Jote and their leaders to remain at the mercy of Awami League.
‘AL did not give us the number of seats it promised. Now everything is left to the mercy of the prime minister,’ said JP presidium member Shafiqul Islam Sentu told New Age.
‘The leaders responsible for bargaining with AL could not serve the interest of JP and its alliance members of Sammilita Jatiya Jote,’ Iqbal Hossain Raju said.
JP’s ally Bangladesh Islami Front secretary general MA Matin blamed JP leaders for having completely failed in bargaining their position with AL. ‘Some JP leaders got personal benefits out of the debacle,’ he said.
‘It could be advantageous to us if members of Jatiya Jote had fielded candidates separately in all 300 constituencies what Ershad also said at the initial stage of bargaining with Awai League,’ said Jatiya Islami Jote chairman Abu Naser Wahed Faruq.
JP presidium member Md Khaled Akhter admitted that it was not possible to ensure win-win situation while bargaining seat sharing with the ruling party.
Moshiur Rahman Ranga, also state minister for rural development, said he and his party were not happy with AL’s decision regarding seat sharing but agreed with the decision in the interest of the grand alliance to strengthen its position in the coming national election.