PM Hasina doubts if opposition Jatiya Party will stay in the race

The Awami League president also reiterated that "party independents" would be running to make the election more participatory, sources said.


File photo of Pm Sheikh Hasina. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

December 12, 2023

DHAKA – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed doubt whether the main opposition Jatiya Party would keep its word and stay in the electoral race.

The Awami League president also reiterated that “party independents” would be running to make the election more participatory, sources said.

After the cabinet meeting yesterday, the premier had an unscheduled discussion with her colleagues on AL leaders running as independents and the main opposition in parliament.

According to the four ministers The Daily Star spoke to after the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, some senior ministers drew Hasina’s attention to JP’s stance on polls and the “AL independents”.

The PM then said there is no guarantee what JP will do in the upcoming election.

Hasina said JP dropped Raushan Ershad, her son Rahgir Al Mahi Ershad (Saad Ershad), and Mashiur Rahman Ranga from the race and no one knows what it would do and when.

She said the country is heading for a free and fair election and everyone will have to walk that path. The election will not wait for anyone, she added.

The JP recently had a series of meetings with AL teams over seat-sharing for the January 7 polls.

According to JP sources, the party will stick to its demand that all AL nominees and “AL independents” withdraw from at least 30 to 35 seats so that the JP candidates there have easy wins.

Many leaders in the party think that the JP should quit the race if the demand is not met, said JP sources.

When some ministers at yesterday’s meeting wanted to know Hasina’s stance on “AL independents”, she said the government has taken all measures to make the election free, fair, and acceptable.

“Everyone will have to face competition … ,” Hasina was quoted by a minister.

A minister then requested her not to allow the “AL independents” to use her photo in their campaign posters.

She responded by saying that there was no way to do that. “What can I do?”

Partners of the AL-led 14-party alliance at their meetings with Hasina and other AL leaders recently made repeated requests that the ruling party withdraw “AL independents” in constituencies where they would run. The AL did not make its stance clear to them.

Even some AL incumbents are worried about the “AL independents” in their races as some of the so-called independents would pose a serious challenge for them.

Cabinet Secretary Md Mahbub Hossain, during the post-cabinet meeting briefing yesterday, said the government has ordered the authorities concerned to step up field-level monitoring to curb onion prices and bring those making a quick buck to book.

“After receiving the instructions, our teams are working on the ground,” he said.

During the cabinet meeting, the PM asked the authorities concerned to build jetties and terminals in convenient coastal areas.

She also gave directives for ensuring proper utilisation of the newly discovered oil in the country, BSS quoted the cabinet secretary as saying.

The cabinet approved the draft of the bilateral agreement to be inked between Bangladesh and the EU on aviation; the draft of the national volunteer policy-2023; the draft of the marine tourism policy-2023; and a draft agreement between Bangladesh and Kosovo on cultural cooperation.

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