An intra-party conflict over leadership may cause a split in Gonoforum as a group of party leaders are going to hold an extended meeting in Dhaka tomorrow.
Party leaders cited a conflict between Gonoforum General Secretary Reza Kibria, former executive president Subrata Chowdhury and former general secretary Mostafa Mohsin Montu as the reason for the possible split.
Subrata, Montu and Abu Sayeed have called an extended meeting of the party for September 26 to discuss party affairs.
Meanwhile, Gonoforum in a press statement, signed by its President Dr Kamal Hossain and General Secretary Reza Kibria, on Tuesday said the party has no involvement with the meeting.
Speaking to The Daily Star yesterday, Reza said, "They don't have any right to call a meeting. A meeting can be called with consent from the party president. The decision of calling this meeting is unconstitutional and Gonoforum has nothing to do with it."
He also said anyone can hold a meeting anywhere and Gonoforum has no objection to it, but the party did not call any meeting amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Subrata, however, said Reza had no right to say anything and Dr Kamal would be invited to the meeting.
Talking to this newspaper, he alleged that Reza was not following Gonoforum's charter, which stipulated that the party would hold a secretary-level meeting every 30 days, a standing committee meeting every 60 days and a central committee meeting every 90 days.
"But Mr Reza Kibria did not call a single meeting since the full committee of the party was announced last year. The central committee leaders repeatedly asked him to hold meetings, but in vain," he said.
Subrata further alleged that "show cause" notices were served on a number of party leaders and four of them were expelled later.
"But according to our party charter, the president or the general secretary alone cannot make a decision. All the decisions should be approved in a council or in a central committee meeting," he said.
Asked about the allegations, Reza said, "Yes, everything is subject to approval by the central committee, but the party president can make any decision and can have it approved in a meeting later."
Referring to the expulsion of former Gonoforum leader Sultan Muhammed Mansur Ahmed, Reza said the then general secretary Mostafa Mohsin Montu had expelled Sultan without issuing any show-cause notice to him.
"But when I took charge, I followed the party constitution. We first issued a show-cause notice and then the decision of expulsion was made."
Regarding the party meeting, Reza said a pandemic situation is prevailing in the country and the party has decided to stop its organisational activities for now.
"Before the pandemic, we visited a number of districts. But all the party activities have come to a halt due to novel coronavirus," he said.
Subrata said Dr Kamal was "held hostage" by a group of people and was being "misled" by them.
"We will try our best to bring the party on right track freeing it from the clutches of those people," he said, adding that Gonoforum as an organisation did not suffer so much since its inception in 1993.
The party joined the BNP-led alliance Jatiya Oikyafront in 2018 and contested the last parliamentary election in December that year.
Mokabbir Khan became the party's first elected lawmaker as he won the polls contesting with its electoral symbol "rising sun".
The party was founded in 1993 after Dr Kamal had left the Awami League. At that time, Saifuddin Ahmed Manik was the general secretary of the party.
Gonoforum saw an intra-party conflict after its fifth national council last year. A new committee was announced and there was no room for Subrata, Montu and Abu Sayeed in it.
Reza later expelled a few leaders for violating party discipline.
Dr Kamal on March 4 dissolved the central committee and formed a two-member convening committee.
On March 12, Gonoforum announced its 71-member central committee, but Subrata and Montu were left out.
Contacted, Dr Kamal said, "I have not called any meeting and not received any message from my party."
Asked whether he would join tomorrow's extended meeting if invited, he said, "I did not call any party meeting. Why should I join it?"
The veteran politician said if a person does not want to follow party decisions, then that person has the right to leave the party.