A troubled start for Opposition alliance

Bangladesh has rediscovered Kamal Hossain, a jurist of international fame, as the face of the political Opposition in the country. From a rally in the northeastern city of Sylhet on October 24, Mr. Hossain, 81, announced a campaign for what he said was the revival of democracy. The rally was a typical political congregation, but it pulled in leaders from different stripes, galvanising anti-government rhetoric ahead of the parliamentary election. The alliance led by Mr. Hossain, a former Awami League leader, was reborn on October 13 after a chaotic start. Mr. Hossain built his network with the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and other rivals of the ruling Awami League. Political theatrics defined the day. As Mr. Hossain was holding a press conference in downtown Dhaka to announce a litany of election-time demands, one of his potential allies, A.Q.M. Badruddoza Chowdhury, became an instant critic of the new alliance. He met with reporters in a separate news conference in another part of the city, accusing Mr. Hossain and other leaders of siding with “the forces of evil”. Mr. Chowdhury, a former President of Bangladesh, was angry as he was left out of the alliance. Mr. Chowdhury and his son Mahi were scheduled to meet Mr. Hossain prior to the press meet to find common ground. However, when they drove to Mr. Hossain’s home, they found the gate locked from inside and eventually departed after waiting in the car for some time. “There isn’t even anyone to open the gate. This is an insult,” said Mahi Chowdhury. Badruddoza Chowdhury said: “We were very happy when Kamal Hossain wanted to join our efforts to forge a national unity. But it didn’t happen as expected.” Mr. Chowdhury had attached two conditions for backing the alliance: the BNP must shun its old ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, and no party should wield absolute power. “Neither of the demands was complied with,” said Mr. Chowdhury, who resigned from the presidential office in 2002, ending his long association with the BNP. “If the alliance’s only goal is to bring the BNP back to power, we will not be part of it,” he said. Amid uncertainty, the alliance started its journey on October 13 with a new name, Jatiya Oikya Front. The alliance suffered a jolt after Mainul Hosein, a key ally and a Supreme Court lawyer, landed in jail on October 23 on charges of defaming journalist Masuda Bhatti by calling her a “woman of loose morals” in a television talk-show. Mainul Hosein privately apologised to the journalist, but Ms. Bhatti insisted that he must make a public apology. He now faces a barrage of defamation suits as other women also joined Ms. Bhatti.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/a-troubled-start-for-opposition-alliance/article25350378.ece

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