GM Quader leads Jatiyo Party towards political blackhole

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Jatiyo Party

Jatiyo Party, a center-right conservative nationalist political entity in Bangladesh, was established by Gen Hussain Muhammad Ershad on January 1, 1986. However, following Ershad’s relinquishment of power on December 6, 1991, to Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed, the party faced a barrage of intimidations. Ershad found himself incarcerated, thwarting his election campaigns, while party members encountered threats and cruelty. Despite these challenges, the party managed to secure 35 seats in the parliament during the February 27, 1991 general elections, emerging as the third-largest party in the country.

Subsequently, as the ultra-Islamist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) assumed power with a majority, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and her cabinet utilized state machinery to intimidate Ershad and Jatiyo Party members. Ershad was imprisoned, facing numerous charges, as the BNP government aimed to crush Jatiyo Party. However, amidst this repression, party leaders and supporters staged nationwide protests, demanding Ershad’s release.

Ignoring the widespread outcry from Jatiyo Party supporters, the BNP government escalated its brutality towards Ershad. Dozens of surveillance cameras, even in his toilet, violated his basic rights as a former president. Furthermore, medical care was denied to him. This level of cruelty surpassed the norms of autocracies worldwide, posing a dire threat to both Jatiyo Party’s existence and Ershad’s life. Despite concerted efforts by party leaders and supporters to prevent the party’s demise and ensure Ershad’s survival, the government remained obstinate in its oppression.

During these challenging times, while Gen Ershad languished in prison, his younger brother, Ghulam Muhammed Quader (GMQ), remained conspicuously silent, enjoying the comforts of his government service. However, upon Gen Ershad’s release, instead of choosing his politically astute wife, Rowshan Ershad, as his successor, he appointed GMQ as the party’s next chairman. This decision fueled frustration among party members, foreseeing Jatiyo Party’s demise under GMQ’s leadership. These fears materialized post-Gen Ershad’s death, as GMQ steered the party towards becoming a mere family enterprise, controlled by him and his wife, Sherifa Quader.

Meanwhile, GMQ harbored ambitions of securing a significant stake in the government, aligning himself with the ultra-Islamist BNP and its leader, Tarique Rahman. Allegations surfaced of GMQ’s involvement in conspiracies to destabilize the country and overthrow Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government, even colluding with the Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). These machinations persisted until the January 7 general elections, wherein GMQ sought guarantees of winning parliamentary seats from the ruling Awami League, resorting to childish demands and purported cash requests for campaign activities.

Following the elections, GMQ, buoyed by the ruling party’s support, managed to secure a parliamentary seat. However, his wife suffered a resounding defeat, indicating the extent of GMQ’s reliance on external backing. Despite this, GMQ assumed the role of opposition leader in parliament, dubiously labeling Jatiyo Party as a “domestic opposition”, reflecting a lack of integrity and self-esteem.

In the current political landscape, observers liken GM Quader’s antics to that of a comedian, raising concerns about the safety of Bangladesh’s democracy amidst such theatrics.

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