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Bangladesh Nationalist Party pushes for Constitution based on Holy Quran

Bangladesh Nationalist Party pushes for Constitution based on Holy Quran

Kolkata: Opposing the secular polity that the ruling Awami League seeks to uphold, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) lawmaker Harunur Rashid has pitched for an Islamist Bangladesh.

During his speech in the Bangladesh Parliament this week, Rashid said, "There is no place for secularism in Islam." and continued to strongly push for a Constitution based on "Islam as enshrined in the Holy Quran", negating the often-made claims by the BNP politicians that their party is for "equality before the law" of all Bangladeshis.

However, his comment was opposed by the Awami League lawmakers, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

"Bangladesh is a secular nation and it will remain secular. Our nationalism is based on our rich language and distinct Bengali cultural identity and that will not change," Sheikh Hasina reminded Rashid, the BNP MP from Chapai Nawabganj, during the debate in the Parliament.

But Rashid continued to insist on the "innate discrepancy between Islam and Westernised secularism", and said: "For a country whose population is 90 per cent Muslims or more, it is inconsistent and unacceptable to have a secular polity."

The BNP leadership did not oppose Rashid's remarks in the Parliament.

The BNP had made its political preference clear when it formed the government in 2001 with pro-Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami as its coalition partner.

For the next five years of the BNP-Jamaat reign, a surfeit of Islamist radical terror groups like HUJI, JMB and Ansarullah Bangla Team surfaced or consolidated their position in Bangladesh, unleashing horrible pogroms against minority Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.

The BNP was born in the military barracks, and its founder and military ruler General Ziaur Rahman had legitimised the pro-Pakistani collaborators by removing the ban on them. Its brand of Bangladeshi nationalism is religion-driven.

The BNP has also backed the Hefazat-e-Islam's violent street agitations on a wide variety of issues like installation of statues of the nation's founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the anti-jihadist crackdown in France and visit of Indian PM Narendra Modi as a special guest on the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh's Independence earlier this year.

Analysts say that BNP's fresh pitch for an Islamist state comes at a time when Pakistan-backed Taliban is pushing for power in Afghanistan after the US military withdrawal.

"The BNP always enjoys strong Pakistani backing. Its former PM Begum Khaleda Zia had even graced the Pakistan Army Day programme at the Pakistan embassy in London in 2019 before the parliamentary polls. The Taliban surge in Afghanistan seems to have encouraged BNP," said Sukhoranjan Dasgupta, author of 'Midnight Massacre' on the 1975 Bangladesh coup.

He said the BNP is trying to "bring together all Islamist radical elements under one roof" to challenge the Awami League, which has presided over Bangladesh's 'Golden Decade of Development' (2010-2020).

"The violence during Modi's visit and to oppose statues of Mujib because statues are anti-Islamic is a clear attempt to question the Bengali basis of Bangladesh and play up the defeated ideology of Pakistan," Dasgupta added.

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TAGS:BNP lawmakerIslamic BangladeshPM Sheikh Hasina.
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