HM Ershad, who quit as the Jatiya Party (JP) chairman last year, in a surprise move announced yesterday that he still retains the party’s top post.
“I appointed one leader as acting chairman on special reasons. I was and I will be the party chief,” Ershad said at a press briefing after the JP presidium meeting at the party office in Banani. He, however, did not explain the ‘special reasons.’
Ershad also presided the party presidium meeting for the first time yesterday after his ‘resignation.’
On June 30 last year, the former military strongman in a press conference disclosed that he had left his post and had appointed presidium member Anisul Islam Mahmud to deputise for him until the party elects a new chief.
Anisul, who had been presiding the party presidium meetings in the last few months, was also present in yesterday’s meeting.
Explaining Ershad’s back-pedalling on his earlier stand, a highly placed source in the JP said that Ershad gave up his post at that time as he was under pressure from within and outside the party.
At present, however, he is not faced with any pressure to retire from politics, the source added.
At yesterday’s meeting, Ershad, who has been serving as the JP chief since 1986, clarified his stance to his colleagues about his holding the party’s top post.
“Ershad took the decision to quit as party chief as part of his strategy. Now the party’s position is far better compared to other major political parties. So, we can now play significant role in national politics,” a senior JP leader, close to Ershad, told The Daily Star last night.
At the meeting, Ershad directed the party leaders to prepare for parliamentary elections.
In his defence, Ershad said that he had taken the decision last June as his leadership had been called into question and some people had thought that his being there might get in the way of reforms.
Much like the similar way, the leadership of BNP chairperson and Awami League president had also been questioned, he added.
Asked whether the presence of Khaleda and Hasina is necessary to make the government sponsored dialogue meaningful, Ershad replied in the negative. “I believe every corrupt person will be tried,” he added.
He said that holding the parliamentary elections in December might not be possible since the voter list will not be ready by that time.
“In that case, if elections to upazila parishads take place before the parliamentary elections, the national polls can be delayed,” Ershad said.
“However, I am confident that the polls will be held. We can wait three to four months more for a credible election,” he added.
The JP chief said that he has initiated steps to form an alliance with like-minded parties, adding that he is not thinking about the AL-led grand electoral alliance.
He said that Rawshan Ershad, who had left JP on June 26, 2007, has written to him for returning to the party.
Ershad also expressed his concern over the skyrocketing prices of essentials and food crisis.
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