BNP won’t take a tough line till July

Fears losing steam before polls if it goes for an all-out movement now

The BNP would not go for any tough movement at least until July as it feels it would not be able to carry on with the agitation up to the elections later this year, party insiders claimed.
They said even though they were frustrated with BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia bail getting tied up in court and the government becoming tougher on them, they would not go for any programme that could become violent.

They said holding on to the momentum of a movement was key and the party believes that igniting one right now would be a waste.

The party’s top brass sent a message along this line to grassroots leaders and asked them to be patient and ignore provocation by the ruling party and the government.

“Yes, the bail process of Khaleda has become long, it may be longer if the government wants. But we will continue our legal battle. At the same time, we will continue our peaceful protest programmes ignoring all provocations,” Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, party’s standing committee member, told The Daily Star.

BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman has been talking to the district-level leaders over phone and giving them directives on elections and the next movement.

Meanwhile, a group of leaders in the BNP believes that they should not go for any programme at all as that usually results in BNP getting arrested. They think they should conserve their resources for a push after July.

A senior BNP leader said, “If we do not go for any programme right now, our leaders and activists will remain out of jail and the detained ones will get bail by then. We can use this power when we launch a vigorous movement after July.”

The leader also said the peaceful events of the party, since Khaleda’s conviction, has been lauded by various quarters and that was why the government went tough on the BNP and started attacking programmes like the black flag programme.

“The government thought the BNP would go for a violent movement soon after the verdict and the government would launch a massive crackdown but the party did not go for that option,” Mosharraf said.

He also said the government thought that there would be differences of opinions among senior leaders which would help split the party. “But the party is more united now than ever. We make all the decisions consulting all senior leaders.”

He said the ruling party thought Tarique’s leadership would be challenged as many senior leaders did not like him. But all the decisions were being made after talking to the acting party chief.

The party has been observing various protest programmes since Khaleda landed in jail in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on February 8. It had observed a token hunger strike, formed a human chain, staged a sit-in, and placed memorandums to DCs, and held protest rallies.

Political scientists also welcomed the BNP’s peaceful programmes.

Eminent political scientist Rounaq Jahan said, “People do not want any violent movement.”

She said apart from the legal battle, the BNP should fix its election strategy. “BNP may get sympathy.”

Echoing her, noted right activists Sultana Kamal said, “In any democratic country, movement should be peaceful. The BNP’s peaceful movement was praiseworthy and it was also a relief for the nation.”

Meanwhile, a special court in Dhaka yesterday extended the bail of Khaleda until March 13 in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.

Source: The Daily Star

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