Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, seemingly disenchanted with Jatiya Party (JP) Chairman Ershad's possible entry into the ruling four-party alliance, believes it has enough organisational strength to contest elections alone if compelled to.
"We're serious about upholding the unity of the alliance, but if we do not find anyone with us, we have both organisational strength and preparation to contest the election alone -- and we'll do better", a Jamaat policymaker told the UNB Sunday.
A top leader, who asked not be quoted by name, said Jamaat does not like Ershad joining the alliance as it would only expose the alliance's unity as well as create dissatisfaction among its workers and supporters.
"We're waiting for the meeting with the Prime Minister as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) secretary general said any decision in connection with Ershad would be taken in consultation with alliance partners", he said.
Asked about the date of the meeting, he blew hot and cold in the same breath: "If it is held, it will be held quickly, otherwise never."
Asked about progress in the negotiation between the BNP and the JP over Ershad's return to the alliance, he said, " We're still in darkness. They are continuing discussion; perhaps both the parties are playing with each other."
About the necessity of wooing Ershad in the alliance, the Jamaat policymaker said there might be several reasons. Firstly, BNP leadership might have been perturbed over some intelligence reports that projected BNP and Jamaat's bad results in the upcoming elections.
Secondly, some people in the government 'might be frightened about their corruption' -- and they think if Ershad is inducted, risks in the elections would be less.
Thirdly, the BNP might be scared about the Badruddoza Chowdhury and Oli factors in the elections.
Moreover, some international quarters might have convinced the BNP leadership that it would be better if Jamaat's influence on them could be curtailed with Ershad stepping in.
Asked if BNP leadership prefers Ershad under internal and external pressure, he said, "Jamaat does not like the go-alone policy as Islamic forces do not want Awami League in power. But we have our preparation to face any situation."
He said if compelled, Jamaat, with its own organisational leverage, would contest the elections alone. In that situation, "some senior leaders of Jamaat might need to make some sacrifice, but, overall, we will do better."
In support of his contentions, he said in the 1991 elections Jamaat had got 18 seats without having allies, but in 2001 Jamaat got 17 seats being in the alliance.
The reason is Jamaat candidates were not given nominations from the alliance in Jamaat's stronghold districts of Cox's Bazar, Bogra, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon, Jhenaidah, Kushtia and Sirajganj.