Dhaka, Jan 19: Jatiya Party (JP) chairman HM Ershad invited an emergency press conference on Tuesday in its Banani party office to clear party position regarding announcement of Raushan Ershad as acting chairman.
A faction of JP announced Ershad’s wife Raushan Ershad, who is also the opposition chief in Parliamnet, as acting chairman of JP on Monday night.
However, party chief HM Ershad, who is also the special envoy to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has dismissed the announcement making his wife, Raushon, acting chairman of Jatiya Party as ‘totally illegal’.
Ershad made the comments at an emergency news conference in Rangpur on Monday night to react to the declaration made by Secretary General Ziauddin Bablu in Dhaka.
The prime minister’s special envoy pointed an accusing finger at the party leaders close to the ruling Awami League and said attempts are being made to split Jatiya Party.
Only a day ago, Ershad had announced his brother GM Quader as his successor and co-chairman in the party’s stronghold, Rangpur. The move prompted the tit-for-tat proclamation at a meeting at Raushon Ershad’s house in Dhaka.
Around an hour later, Ershad arranged a media call at a hotel in Rangpur, where he is staying now. “I’m the party chairman. Only I have the mandate to call Presidium meeting; no-one else can do it.”
“Even if it is called, that will be done against the party’s constitution. Those who have declared Raushon Ershad the party’s acting chairman have bad intentions,” he said.
After the meeting at Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Raushon’s residence, Bablu had told reporters that the post of co-chairman does not exist in the party constitution.
Ershad’s ‘constitutionally illegitimate’ announcement drew the decision to make his wife the acting chief at a joint meeting of the Presidium and parliamentary party.
Ershad responded: “My younger brother GM Quader will run the party in my absence. It’s because of this reason that I’ve picked him up as co-chairman according to Section 39 of the constitution. Being the chairman, I can exercise this power.”
Both his wife and brother are Presidium members.
Relations between the deposed president and the former First Lady soured two years ago over the participation of the parliamentary elections. Amid a tug of war, Eshad had said Raushon was his saviour.
Since then, things have changed so much so that at Monday’s media call he threatened action against those who made the Raushon the acting party chief.
“Nobody questioned the decision when I made Anisul Islam Mahmud acting chairman or when I replaced Ruhul Amin Howlader with Ziauddin Bablu as secretary general. Why are you asking questions now?”
Ershad’s party contested the BNP-boycotted general election in 2014 amid much drama and then sat both in the government and in the opposition. Mahmud is a Cabinet minister while Mashiur Rahman Ranga is a state minister.
“A group inside the party is conspiring to divide the party at a time when I’m thinking about it all over again and trying to steer the party through a crisis,” said the 85-year old who had founded the party after usurping power as the army chief.
When reporters asked him who the conspirators are, Ershad said: “The real face of those are with the Jatiya Party and who are not have been exposed through their announcement that Raushon Ershad is the acting chairman.”
GM Quader echoed his brother at the press conference before adding: “They will not succeed in the breaking the party up.”
“As long as Ershad is alive, he will continue to be chairman. And the party will be run as he wishes. I will try to take the party forward as per the chairman’s directives.”