Many also disapprove of BNP’s alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami
The main opposition BNP’s grassroots and mid-level leaders have urged the party policymakers to hold talks with the government and build a movement to force the ruling party to hold the next elections under a neutral government.
Besides, a section of leaders and activists have expressed dissatisfaction over the BNP’s alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami. Many are of the opinion that the party’s image will be tarnished if it goes to the polls with this Jamaat, which is thought to harbour anti-liberation war sentiments.
Notably, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is trying to formulate its political strategy and possibly a movement ahead of the next 12th parliamentary elections.
As part of the strategy, the party is holding a three-day series of meetings, from Tuesday till Thursday, to seek the views of senior leaders of the party and central level leaders of its affiliated organizations.
The central executive committee of the party has organized such a large scale meeting after nearly three and a half years. BNP Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman virtually chaired the meeting from London.
The main topic of discussion on the second day of the meeting of the BNP’s joint secretaries general and secretaries with the party’s top-level leaders was that they want to ensure the upcoming elections are held under a neutral government.
BNP Joint Secretary General Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal, who was present at the meeting, said: "We need politics at the field level now."
“Democracy cannot be restored if elections are held under this government, like the past 12 years. So, we want elections under a neutral government, like a caretaker government. We are discussing all these issues at the internal meeting,” he said.
Also Read - BNP policymakers in another closed door meeting
The BNP is thinking of refraining from making conventional proposals on a restructuring of the Election Commission and is focusing more on issues linked to an election-time government.
Speaking to several mid-level leaders, Dhaka Tribune found that no final decision had been taken on the issue yet, but party leaders believe that if the current government is in power, it will not be impartial.
BNP Joint Secretary General and Member of Parliament elected from Chapainawabganj sadar Harun-ur Rashid told Dhaka Tribune that an unwritten state of emergency over field politics, meetings and processions had been in place for a long time.
The BNP was not the only party which formed an alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami; the Awami League once collaborated with it for votes as well, he said.
“We have raised the issue of political dialogue with the government as an alternative, so that people can come to the polls in the upcoming elections under a caretaker government,” he added.
BNP standing committee member Selima Rahman said most of the leaders had pointed out how to strengthen its sister organizations across the country. Various issues, including party restructuring, alliance politics, lawsuits against leaders and activists came up in the discussion.
Besides, the district leaders of the party expressed their displeasure by pointing out organizational irregularities within the party.
One of the leaders said: “We cannot campaign during the election. We are being pressured on the issue of the BNP being in alliance with the Jamaat. As a part of the party, we do not want the party to lag behind due to the anti-liberation mentality of the Jamaat.”
The leaders also expressed the view that there was no alternative to a strong movement for the release of former prime minister and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, and the formation of a neutral non-partisan government along with a neutral election commission for fair elections.
Taking the opinions of the leaders and workers at all levels into account, the top leaders will discuss all issues with the acting chairman and chalk up tasks, according to BNP MP Rumeen Farhana.
At the end of the three-day meeting, members of the standing committee will keep the meeting going for a few more days, she added.