12th national parliament: Independent MPs not sure about their role in parliament yet

The independent Members of Parliament (MPs) are awaiting Prime Minister and parliamentary leader Sheikh Hasina’s decision regarding their role in the parliament. The Prime Minister has extended an invitation to the independent candidates to her official residence, Ganabhaban.  

The independent MPs hope to receive guidance during the Ganabhaban meeting regarding their parliamentary roles and the allocation of reserved seats for women. They anticipate directives from the Prime Minister regarding their parliamentary functions and the distribution of reserved seats for women.  

The Awami League has secured the government for the fourth consecutive term by winning in 223 constituencies. The newly elected MPs took their oaths on 10 January, and on the same day, they elected Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the parliamentary leader. The new cabinet was sworn in the following day. 

There have been numerous discussions in the political arena regarding the formation of the opposition and the role of independent candidates in the parliament.  

Many independent MPs have expressed their willingness to act according to the Prime Minister’s suggestions. However, at the policymaking level within the Awami League, there is discussion about some members acting as independent MPs without formally joining the party in parliament.  

In the 12th parliamentary elections, it was widely anticipated that the Awami League would secure an absolute majority. The focus then shifted to the question of who would constitute the opposition party. The Jatiya Party (JaPa) emerged as the party with the most seats after the ruling Awami League, securing 11 seats. However, there are 62 independent MPs in the 12th parliament, with 58 of them being Awami League leaders. 

In the current scenario, independent MPs have the opportunity to form a non-partisan alliance and petition the Speaker of the Parliament to designate the opposition from among them.  

However, discussions with several independent MPs reveal that most of them are reluctant to join the opposition. Despite being independent MPs, they prefer to align themselves with the ruling Awami League, as they are affiliated with the party. The question arises whether the Awami League will incorporate these independent candidates within their ranks.  

Nevertheless, some independent candidates are open to the idea of forming an alliance to constitute the opposition in the parliament. As of now, no definitive decision has been reached on the distribution of reserved women’s seats among independent MPs. Additionally, official discussions among independent MPs regarding these matters have not yet taken place. 

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