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AL out to ‘exhaust opposition’s capacity’ to contest polls

AL out to ‘exhaust opposition’s capacity’ to contest polls

Anowar Hossain . Dhaka |  Oct 07, 2018 | Prothom ALo

Ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) has made a three-pronged strategy to keep the opposition under constant pressure before the 11th parliamentary elections, the party insiders say.

Such strategy includes continued contorl over the streets by holding the ruling party and its alliance’s programmes until the announcement of polls schedule, making top leaders of the BNP, the National Unity Process and Jukta (United) Front ‘controversial’ and stopping the opposition from taking to the streets.

The ruling party leaders say they feel the BNP has no other way except joining the next national elections to evade its crisis of existence.

AL presidium member and 14-party alliance spokesperson Mohammad Nasim told Prothom Alo that there would be serious repercussion within the BNP to any decision to boycott the next parliamentary elections.

He believes the BNP would not take such a path which may lead to splitting of the party.

The ruling party leaders said they have been planning to negotiate with the opposition leaders who would take part in the polls following the government’s blueprint.

The AL policymakers think opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has realised that their demands including that of the polls-time neutral government will not be implemented.

There will be further crisis for the BNP if the court gives verdict against the party’s senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman in the case in connection with the grenade attack on the then opposition AL’s rally on 21 August 2004, the AL camp believes.

Trial court has fixed 10 October as the date to pass its verdict.

In this context, the BNP and like-minded opposition parties will have little time to decide on whether to join or boycott the national polls, which may create factions in them, they believe.

Then, the Awami League will try to break the alliance and if it succeeds, it will then negotiate on sharing parliamentary seats, the AL policymakers said.

The opposition leaders, who want to take part in the elections, however, think the government will finally go for negotiations.

Others think the opposition’s participation in the polls as per the AL design will only legalise the elections that might be manipulated.

“The BNP-led alliance couldn’t foil the 2014 elections and won’t be able to do it in the future,” Nasim, also health minister, said.

The government, the Awami League and the 14-party alliance have taken preparation to keep the electoral field occupied through rallies and other programmes until the announcement of polls schedule, he added.

Nasim said they will change the publicity method after the announcement of the schedule.

The AL is considering two aspects before the elections — one is the verdict of 21 August grenade attack scheduled for 10 October and the ruling party leaders are expecting a harsh verdict in the case, according to many senior leaders.

Also, the party has been circulating as many as one million leaflets inscribed ‘vote for Awami League’, ‘Fight against anarchy’ throughout the city as part of the party’s week-long pre-polls campaign declared on last Monday.

The 14-party alliance led by the AL will hold programmes in district level after the campaign.

AL leaders and policymakers are in fear whether everything will be under their control and whether their plans will be executed properly. The infighting is another reason for the leaders’ concern.

Leaders involved with the party’s nomination process said that there was a plan earlier to declare the names who would receive election tickets but later senior leaders gave up the idea in view of possibility of intra-party conflict.

In the meantime, numerous ‘false’ cases have been filed against the BNP leaders and workers all over the country. The police on Monday implicated as many as 55 BNP leaders including the party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Moudud Ahmed, Mirza Abbas, Goyeshwar Chandra Roy, Abdul Moyeen Khan and Nazrul Islam Khan, senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi and joint secretary general Amanullah Aman.

Referring to the BNP’s huge popular base, Shujan secretary Badiul Alam Majumber told Prothom Alo, the opposition party would participate in the election if a congenial environment is ensured.

“But a number of senior leaders were implicated in various cases by the police… It seems the government is trying to exchaust the opposition’s ability to stage competion in the election,” Badiul Alam added.

*This piece, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza and Farjana Liakat

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