‘Tougher’ BNP programmes unlikely for nowTaib Ahmed
The main opposition, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, after enforcing a series of general strikes in April, is unlikely to go for any ‘tougher’ political programmes before June 11, said party insiders.
They said the party’s next protest programmes would not be solely on the issue of the disappearance of its organising secretary M Ilias Ali, rather the movement would encompass all major issues, including the demand for restoration of the caretaker government system and for ‘return’ of its missing leader.
A senior BNP leader said the party would not enforce any ‘tougher’ programmes like hartal before June 11 as it was planning to make the June 11 ‘grand’ rally in Dhaka successful.
Though the BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, is expected to announce programmes at the June 11 rally for one-point demand – ouster of the government -- the party prefers to go easy on the movement for now.
The party hopes its anti-government movement would gain momentum towards the end of the year, insiders said.
Talking to New Age, BNP standing committee member Rafiqul Islam Mia said the anti-government movement would gain momentum in phases.
‘You cannot expect a movement to reach its peak overnight,’ he said.
‘The BNP chairperson would announce an action programme for a one-point demand, fall of the government, from the [June 11] grand rally,’ he said.
‘The party has concentrated on how to make the grand rally successful,’ he added.
Khaleda Zia in the March 12 ‘grand’ rally issued a 90-day ultimatum to the government to accept the caretaker government provision for supervising the next general elections. The deadline will be over on June 10.
The anniversary of death of BNP’s founder Ziaur Rahman falls on May 30 and on the occasion, the party would send its central leader to different regions of the country with a message to the mid-ranking leaders to ensure a large participation in the June 11 rally.
Party insiders said the BNP chairperson could also visit one or two districts before June 11 ostensibly to encourage the party activists to make the rally successful.
A group of mid-ranking leaders, however, expressed their frustration at the ’pause’ in the movement over the issue of the disappearance of Ilias Ali, which they believed had gained some momentum.
‘The party should have sustained the movement,’ Chittagong city BNP general secretary Shahadat Hossain told New Age.
He also said that the party senior leaders should not have gone into hiding to avoid arrest. ‘It is discouraging for the party activists as it has weakened the anti-government movement,’ he said.
The party top leaders’ going into hiding to avoid arrest and its retreat from street agitations have angered most of the activists.
They thought that the decision had tarnished the image of the party and weakened the morale of its rank and file.
A Juba Dal leader said the party’s top leaders had ‘tarnished the image of the party’.
A section of party leaders, however, extended their support the party decision.
‘There are ups and downs in every movement,’ said Jhenaidah district BNP president Moshiur Rahman.
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