Partners of the Awami League-led 14-party alliance plan to demand more than 100 seats out of 300 in the Jatiya Sangsad, in the upcoming 11th general election set to take place just over a year from now.
Sources from the parties told the Dhaka Triune that they will put forward their demand once the AL high-ups start discussing allocation of seats with its allies.
Of the alliance partners, Workers Party of Bangladesh wants 30-40 seats, two factions of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JaSaD) at least 20, Bangladesh Tariqat Federation 30, Shamyabadi Dal 5, Ganatantri Party 10-12, Gana Azadi League 5-6, National Awami Party (NAP) 20-25 and Communist Kendro and Ganatantrik Majdur Party want one seat each.
Leaders from the alliance parties said they are preparing lists of their candidates and they will send the lists to Awami League President and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina once completed.
A number of political parties, such as Tariqat Federation, Workers’ Party and Samyabadi Dal have already finalised their candidates, while others are in the process of preparing the lists, said sources inside the alliance.
The Jatiya Sangsad has 300 electoral seats. In the last national election held on January 5, 2014, the AL had allocated seven seats to the Workers' Party, six to the JSD and two to the Tariqat Federation. The other partners of the alliance did not get any seats.
The most prominent members of the 14-party alliance are the Awami League, Bangladesh Tariqat Federation, JaSaD (Inu), Workers’ Party, Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal (Marxbadi-Leninbadi), Ganatantri Party, Communist Kendro, Gana Azadi League, National Awami Party (NAP-Mojaffor), Jatiya Party (JP-Manju) and the Ganatantrik Majdur Party.
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Tariqat Federation Joint Secretary Syed Tayabul Bashar Maizbhandari told the Dhaka Tribune his party made a list of 120 eligible candidates across the country.
“Thirty among the listed candidates have the necessary quality to win in the upcoming election,” he added.
Claiming that Tariqat Federation had proved itself a strong political partner to the Awami League, Tayabul Bashar said: “We will participate in the election under the Boat symbol and we will demand 30 seats.”
The Tariqat leader is optimistic that in the next general election the Awami League will share at least 10 seats with the party.
Meanwhile, Workers’ Party General Secretary Fazle Hossain Badsha told the Dhaka Tribune: “We are preparing to contest from 50 constituencies, and will demand 30 seats from the 14-party alliance. But if our alliance chief gives us at least 15 seats, we will accept it.”
“We currently have seven seats in parliament, and our lawmakers are performing better than other alliance party lawmakers. So, we are optimistic that more seats will be allocated to us in the next election,” he added.
Speaking on the issue, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JaSaD-Inu) General Secretary Shirin Akhter said: “We are working on a list of eligible candidates. We will finalise the list of our candidates and will send it to Awami League chief within a few days.”
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Dilip Barua, general secretary of Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal, said: “We will demand five seats from the 14-party alliance and we are preparing a list of candidates.”
Leaders of the member parties of AL-led alliance made it clear that they will participate in the next polls jointly with the Awami League, and will accept the alliance chief’s decision over seat allocation.
However, sources within the Awami League told the Dhaka Tribune the demand of the alliance parties was "unrealistic," as many of these parties do not even have offices across the country.
The alliance members would not be able to support candidates in most of the constituencies, said AL insiders.
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Awami League leaders said seat allocation for the alliance parties solely depends on the participation of BNP in the next elections.
They further added if BNP participates in the 11th parliamentary polls, then the alliance parties will not be given the seats that they are demanding. However, if the BNP boycotts the election, the alliance members might get more seats in the parliament.
Commenting on the matter, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, organising secretary of Awami League, said: “Member parties of the 14-party alliance have not made any demands yet, and the issue was not discussed in the recent 14-party meeting.”
“Awami League President and chief of the alliance Sheikh Hasina will make the final decision regarding the allocation of seats, after considering demands made by the alliance members,” he said.
Meanwhile, Awami League presidium member and coordinator of the 14-party alliance, Mohammad Nasim said: “The alliance members did not discuss the issue with us yet, and leaders of the alliance would finalise seat allocation in collaboration with the alliance parties.
Jatiya Party (JaPa) was a member of the grand alliance, but not a member of the 14-party alliance. The party recently formed a new political coalition, the “United National Alliance,” and announced that it would participate in the next polls on its own.
However, a senior leader of JaPa told the Dhaka Tribune that it would participate in the polls independently only if BNP boycotts the elections.
“But, if the BNP participates in the polls, the JaPa will follow the directives of the Awami League,” he added.
Additional reporting by Manik Miazee