The Awami League (AL) and Jatiya Party (JP) finally reached an agreement yesterday to nominate JP candidates in 48 seats from the AL-led electoral grand alliance in the upcoming ninth parliamentary elections.
The settlement came at the eleventh hour of candidacy withdrawal following two days' dramatic events centring seat sharing between the two components of the alliance.
Intense negotiations between the two parties had faltered late Wednesday night when JP withdrew itself from the alliance because of "being deprived" of nomination after the AL offered JP about 30 seats. Earlier, JP got assurance of getting 47 seats from the alliance leader.
But JP chair HM Ershad yesterday afternoon announced to wait until 5:00pm for the AL's final decision regarding seat sharing.
"The grand alliance is still intact and we are ready to take part in the polls under the grand alliance if Jatiya Party is given the number of seats it has demanded," Ershad told reporters.
After Ershad's announcement, a policymaking level delegation of JP led by acting Chairman barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud went to Hasina's political office at Dhanmondi at about 4:30pm to hold a meeting with an AL delegation.
At the meeting the two parties reviewed seat sharing. After an hour they came out smiling and announced that all misunderstandings were resolved.
Sources said the AL chief who was visiting Sylhet instructed AL spokesperson Syed Ashraful Islam over telephone to accept JP's demands "in the greater interests of the grand alliance".
As per the agreement, JP candidates will contest the election in 45 seats as alliance candidates while Nilphamari-4, Khulna-3 and Sylhet-3 seats have been kept open for both the AL and JP. The AL had won in four of the 45 seats in the 2001 parliamentary election.
Of the 48 seats, 24 are in Rajshahi division with 18 out of 22 constituencies in greater Rangpur, nine in Dhaka division, five in Sylhet, four in Khulna and three each in Chittagong and Barisal divisions.
The AL also shared nine seats with the components in the 14-party alliance, which now is a nine-party coalition.
Apart from the nine-party combine, the AL-led grand electoral alliance comprises of JP, JP-Manju, Islamic Front Bangladesh, Misbaur Rahman Chowdhury's Islami Oikya Jote and Zaker Party.
The JP has decided to take part in the poll with the party's official electoral symbol, plough. Components in the nine-party combine will contest the election with AL's electoral symbol, boat.
In the meantime, the AL and its allies in the nine-party have withdrawn their nominees from the shared seats. The JP has also withdrawn its nominees from all other constituencies.
After finalising seat sharing, JP Chairman Ershad sent a letter to the EC Secretariat asking the commission to allocate "plough" as the electoral symbol to the following candidates: Hafizuddin Ahmed (Thakurgaon-3), Delwar Hossain (Dinajpur-6), Zafar Iqbal Siddiqui (Nilphamari-1), Kazi Faruk Kader (Nilphamari-3), Shawkat Chowdhury (Nilphamari-4), Mohammad Mujibur Rahman (Lalmonirhat-2), GM Kader (Lalmonirhat-3), Asif Shahriar (Rangpur-1), Anisul Islam Mandol (Rangpur-2), HM Ershad (Rangpur-3), Karim Uddin Bharosha (Rangpur-4), SM Farukuzzaman (Rangpur-5), AKM Mustafizur Rahman (Kurigram-1), HM Ershad (Kurigram-2), Maidul Islam (Kurigram-3), Golam Habib Dulal (Kurigram-4), Abdul Kader Khan (Gaibandha-1), Dr TIM Fazle Rabbi (Gaibandha-3), Ali Mahbub (Gaibandha-4), Rowshan Ershad (Gaibandha-5), Shariful Islam Zinnah (Bogra-2), advocate Altaf Ali (Bogra-7), MA Talha (Natore-1), Aminul Islam Jhantu (Sirajganj-2), Abdul Awal Miah (Kushtia-4), Abdul Jabbar (Satkhira-2), HM Golam Reza (Satkhira-4), Golam Kibria Tipu (Barisal-3), ABM Ruhul Amin Hawlader (Barisal-6), Mostafa Jamal Haider (Pirojpur-1), Mohammad Abul Kashem (Tangail-5), Fakir Ashraf (Netrokona-2), Rowshan Ershad (Mymensing-4), Mujibul Haque Chunnu (Koshoreganj-3), SM Abdul Mannan (Manikganj-2), advocate Mujibur Rahman (Munshiganj-3), Syed Abu Hossain Babla (Dhaka-5), HM Ershad (Dhaka-17), Nasim Osman (Narayanganj-5), Mamtaz Iqbal (Sunamganj-4), Atiqur Rahman Atiq (Sylhet-3), Nawab Ali Abbas Khan (Moulvibazar-2), Abid Ali Chowdhury (Habiganj-2), advocate Ziaul Haque Mridha (Brahmanbaria-2), Kazi Zafar Ahmed (Comilla-11), barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud (Chittagong-4) and Morshed Murad Ibrahim (Chittagong-9).
JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE
The AL and JP delegations announced reaching the agreement at a joint press conference.
"We have reached a consensus over seat sharing with Jatiya Party and we hope that all will work towards ensuring victory of the grand alliance candidates in the upcoming parliamentary election. We will go for the election and form government altogether," AL leader Syed Ashraful Islam said at the conference.
"Party President Sheikh Hasina will evaluate the cases of Awami League leaders who have sacrificed their candidacies for the alliance," he said.
JP acting Chairman Anisul Islam Mahmud said, "The prime target of our grand alliance is to continue the anti-corruption drive and making the country's key institutions, including the Anti-Corruption Commission, Election Commission, the judiciary and Public Service Commission, strong and transparent."
Asked about JP's Wednesday night announcement of quitting the grand alliance, he said, "A misunderstanding was created between the brother and sister. But now it has been resolved."
The AL and JP leaders expressed deep gratitude to their party leaders who sacrificed their candidacies and urged all to work for the grand alliance with all-out efforts.
AL Presidium member Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, JP Presidium member Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu and Secretary General Ruhul Amin Hawlader were present at the meeting.
AL CITY ELECTION TEAM
AL will today form a special election conducting team for Dhaka city to facilitate campaigns of party candidates. The primary job of the election conducting team for Dhaka city will be to ensure coordination between the candidates and the party central committee.
The decision was made at a meeting of the city candidates at AL President Sheikh Hasina's political office in Dhanmondi with AL spokesperson Syed Ashraful Islam in the chair.