BNP leaders are set to defy the party’s high command by staying in Dhaka for Eid-ul-Azha on Saturday, fearing Awami League harassment if they return to their respective constituencies.
The instruction to campaign locally during Eid was issued to re-energise grassroots leaders and activists ahead of the next parliamentary elections slated for late 2018 or early 2019.
However, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi yesterday told the Dhaka Tribune that many leaders have now been tasked with different programmes to mark the 39th founding anniversary of the party in Dhaka on Friday, “because they cannot go home”.
“Awami League men harassed and attacked some BNP leaders during the last Eid-ul-Fitr when they went home to celebrate with grassroots leaders and activists,” Rizbi said.
During the Eid-ul-Fitr festival in June, BNP leader Amanullah Aman was attacked allegedly by activists of the ruling party at Dohar in Dhaka, while another leader, Mohammad Shahjahan, was chased numerous times in his locality in Noakhali.
Rizbi said party leaders from districts adjacent to Dhaka will leave for their constituencies after attending the anniversary programmes.
Awami League Presidium Member Ramesh Chandra Sen described the allegations of attacks on the BNP leaders as “baseless”.
“The Awami League men do not attack anybody. We believe in democracy and tolerance,” he said.
BNP sources said those who are likely to contest the polls on BNP tickets have already left the capital to celebrate Eid.
High-ranking BNP figures expected to join them include BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Organising Secretary Imran Salehin Prince, and Joint secretaries general Habibur Nabi Khan Sohel and Moazzem Hosain Alal.
However, several of the party’s Standing Committee members are celebrating Eid in Dhaka.
They include Moudud Ahmed, MK Anower, Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman, Abdul Moin Khan and Nazrul Islam, and central leaders Shakhwat Hossain Jibon, Bilkis Jahan Sirin, Samsuzaman Dudu, Ahamad Azam Khan, Cowdhury Kamal Ibne Yousuf, Shahjahan Omar, Masud Ahmed Talukdhar, Rumeen Farhana and Obaidul Islam.
Also remaining in Dhaka are BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s advisors Gazi Mazharul Anower, Tajmeri SA Islam, Nazmul Haque Nannu, Abdus Salam and Jynal Abedin Faruk; and special assistant Shamsur Rahman Simul Bishah and press secretary Maruf Kamal Kham Sohel.