Most people of Bangladesh are centrist in their political ideology. They are religious in mentality and are quite emotional in that respect. But, they are not communal; rather they may be considered secular in attitude. They follow their own religion with devotion, but are tolerant about other religions. This is the uniqueness of Bangladesh.
To acquire bigger public support political parties try to accommodate centrist political views. All the popular parties here are seen to be of that type. Three parties, Awami League (AL), Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jatiya Party (JP) have experience of running the government and possess considerable popular support. All these parties have more or less similar political ideologies and philosophy and they are centrist. In spite of that AL is being considered liberal and secular, whereas BNP and JP are thought to be conservative and communal. These perceptions have been created due to their political association or alliance partners. AL gives leadership to all the leftist and liberal platforms.
BNP and JP lead rightist and conservative politics. There is a saying, ‘A man is known by the company he keeps’. That is the reason AL, BNP and JP got their perceived identity.
On the basis of political inclination, Bangladesh is divided into two broad based segments. AL led centrist to left leaning group of liberals on one side and BNP and JP led rightist inclined clusters of conservatives on the other. Support base of the later (right leaning centrists and conservatives combine) is comparatively more as is seen by different election results. As per a recent survey report followers of conservative philosophy are on the rise.
Just after emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country, practice of communal politics was barred. AL and some leftist parties became only available political platforms. People with anti-AL mentality and/or right oriented conservatives did not have any suitable political arena. Afterwards, ban on religion based politics was lifted and BNP was floated as a new political party by the then government. All those looking for a political showground got the same. BNP grew fast and with its conservative allies became a powerful adversary to AL and the liberal parties.
After the fall of BNP government in 1982, Gen. Ershad took over as head of government. BNP started facing an acute leadership crisis. Ranks and files were in dismay. Under that circumstance when JP was floated a good chunk of BNP people at all levels shifted to JP only in consideration of better leadership. JP became an alternative political platform for people who were already in BNP or were inclined to join it.
With the passage of time BNP leadership became consolidated and BNP survived and grew stronger. Thus two political parties BNP and JP possessing similar character but having two different sets of leaderships co-existed.
Naturally, in case one grows stronger the other one loses its strength almost up to that. Which one would grow more and which one would not is determined by skill of leadership and its politics; how much closer that could be towards expectation o f people.
If JP gains strength and BNP becomes weaker, that ensures better prospect for AL in national elections. Inversely, in case JP becomes weaker BNP gains strength and chance of AL doing better in elections become bleak.
If JP is eliminated from politics, country may face an imbalance in power politics. AL and liberals combine could turn out to be a minority and might have to be out of power perpetually until something otherwise happens.
It is for the interest of AL and its allies, AL would try to keep JP intact and make it stronger. JP may take advantage of this situation. But it is to be kept in mind that AL would not allow JP to grow stronger than BNP, thereby creating an alternative rival.
BNP, in future may try to keep JP in its alliance at any cost. In that case, it will be able to form a united front to take a strong position in election/movement against AL. JP may have a good bargain under the circumstance. But, JP may face risk of losing separate identity and be absorbed in BNP in case it joins BNP led alliance.
Activities centering coming (11th) parliamentary election are very crucial for JP. It may become insignificant, weaker or may be in command by turning out to be a key to power. Right actions at the appropriate time may lead JP to success.
The writer is a politician