Dhaka, Bangladesh
Poll preparation in mohajote

Poll preparation in mohajote

AL allies claim their shares

News Special Vote arithmetic looks like is this: if the left outfits run alone, they may go blank, and if JP plays a lone hand that produces a peanut. What if AL goes alone? Even many Awami Leaguers may not say for sure. This calculation dominates ruling coalition reformation in the event of BNP finally joining the fray this time around. In an election race with the past boycotters in field, there is every possibility that the active components in the mohajote (14-party alliance plus JP) should hold fast as a united force--albeit unless some last-minute developments upset the apple cart. Political analysts are of the view that it is imperative for the AL to keep its allies and lure in election-time turncoats to replenish its standing beyond doubts about a deficit that anti-incumbency factor might have caused. For the reigning left in the coalition, it appears to be a 'something+0=sth' game in election politics, transcending their ideological-strategic goals. Sources in political circles say there may not be any problem for Rashed Khan Menon and Hasanul Haq Inu--both ministers in the Sheikh Hasina-led grand coalition in power-in retaining their constituencies. The former is already holding social-welfare and awareness programmes in his domain. And posters with pictures of himself and political icons of AL and alliance adorn many places across his Motijheel-Ramna constituency wherefrom he was elected with AL's boat symbol in the 2008 polls and retained the seat in the January 5th, 2014 election that passed by largely unchallenged with the BNP conceding a 'walkover' through a failed resistance. The bargains centre round the quotas for the parties-how many other aspirants could be accommodated. They are, however, manageable as far as their positions known from insiders. Another left outfit, Shamyabadi Dal, also appears to have cast its luck into future of AL in power politics. Last time its chief, Dilip Barua, had opted for the latter in a swap between standing for MP and becoming minister. Most unpredictable is the quisling--the current position-opposition Jatiya Party of former military ruler HM Ershad. He is known for blowing hot and cold in the same breath. In the latest salvo, he dropped a bombshell from his native place that the JP would lay its stake on 70 seats and 12 cabinet posts, failing which field contestants in all 300 on stake at the next polls, likely in December. An Amardin report Monday said the Workers Party of Bangladesh and the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) seek at least 15 seats each. It also mentioned desires of other smaller parties in the mohajote. The WP has got six Members of Parliament in the present House. They last stood in election with the grand alliance-allocated candidates with the Boat of AL and separately with party-fielded ones with Hammer. Contacted, a senior leader of the WP said, "We want minimum 15 seats from the alliance in the next election. And we have 30-50 candidates to stand with the haturi (hammer) in the election." On Monday, reporters had a chance meet with Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader in streets during a drive against unfit vehicles when they drew his attention to general Ershad's latest stance and asked him about the prospect of the grand alliance. "Time will tell whether or not jote with Jatiya Party. I cannot say now," said Mr Quader, also Road Transport and Bridges Minister. The AL leader, however, believes there wouldn't be any problem in setting coalition candidates to contest the next polls. "Winnable candidates will be set," he said. On the other side of the divide, the BNP is engrossed with the urgency of getting party chief and leader of the 20-aprty alliance Khaleda Zia, also former prime minister, freed from jail. Party leaders say this time they wouldn't stay away from the polls 'under any circumstances'. There are different reckonings in the alliance over the upcoming general election. Analysts believe their final decisions may come none too soon. Many ruling-party leaders wonder in public what really are up in their sleeves. Even they question what BNP's 'election-time government' looks like.

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