The eleventh parliamentary election is just around the corner and BNP has taken several initiatives to keep the party men motivated and active.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has already launched political activities targeting the polls, beginning with a Cox’s Bazar tour in October to help the Rohingya refugee.
BNP Standing Committee Member Moudud Ahmed had stated previously that all party programmes now aim to motivate the activists and boost public support in favour of the party.
BNP’s decision to boycott the January 5 polls in 2014 had a detrimental effect on the BNP. In that context, the party is well aware about the importance of the next general polls.
Speaking on the issue, BNP standing committee member Amir Khusru Mahmud Chowdhury said: “We will participate in the next election. We are very sincere and our preparations are going on in the same way.”
However, there are questions about how the election will be held.
Besides being active with political programmes, the BNP is also working on a proposal to formulate the polls-time government.
Instead of the election-time “caretaker government” system, they are now demanding an “election time supportive government” system.
But the question is whether the ruling party will be open to such ideas since it is still expressing its desire to stay in power during elections, pointing to the constitution.
The BNP has boycotted the national elections three times in their political history.
However, BNP started participating in the local government election under the party symbol, after the party boycotted the January 5 polls in 2014.
BNP has started election-oriented activities, but in all the talks with the EC and other parties they will be keeping the supporting government system at the front of their list of demands.
BNP has also taken the initiative to reorganise the party apparatus. However, the initiative has seen multiple setbacks due to imprisonment of senior leaders, and many other hurdles.
The leaders of the party say that the incumbent government has shown autocratic attitude the whole year.
2017 was a difficult time for the BNP, which party leaders say will be a scandalous chapter in history.
However, the BNP leaders said their current goal is to re-establish people’s rights and democracy through democratic movement in the New Year.
Khaleda Zia went to court every week and she is on bail in the Zia Charitable and Orphanage Trust graft cases filed against her.
BNP sources say that in the coming year, BNP will have to deal with a few major issues.
The important issues are-- dealing with Khaleda Zia’s case, strengthening the organisation, selecting candidates for nomination, uniting the divided alliance, keeping the United Front and the big Left alliance (CPB-BSD-Left Front) from joining the ruling alliance, and cooperating with several groups of Qawmi Madrasas to keep the coalition under their control.
Responding to a question, Amir Khasru said that everyone has to be united. If you want a neutral and participatory selection, then everyone will have to be in the same state of mind, he said.
The big leaders of small parties have dedicated their life to democracy. Since the year 2018 is the year of democracy, BNP will go ahead with unbiased elections, according to the BNP leader.
In 2017, BNP had to deal with Khaleda’s absence
This year the BNP placed emphasis on political and organisational cohesion. Although Khaleda Zia was in London for more than three months, the party had no problems in making decisions.
After January 5, 2017, BNP could not launch a black flag protest on the anniversary of the previous general polls.
One day later, the party called for protests all over the country. When the new Election Commission was formed in February, they objected. However, Monirul Haque Sakku- the mayoral candidate backed by the party won the Comilla City Corporation election in March.
On April 19, the committee was divided into the Dhaka and Dhaka division of the party. On May 10, Khaleda Zia announced Vision 2030, a policy manifesto, in the capital.
The police launched a raid on Khaleda’s office on May 20. On July 15, Khaleda went to London, and returned on October 18.
On the day of her return to Bangladesh, the presence of thousands of leaders and activists from the airport to Gulshan signified BNP’s organisational strength.
On October 22, Khaleda Zia met Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. On 28 October, BNP Chairperson visited Cox’s Bazar to see the Rohingya refugees. During her visit, her motorcade was attacked in Mirsarai of Feni and Chittagong.
Besides, BNP had lost some senior leaders and two associate parties this year.
Seventy high level teams of BNP have emerged across the country to link the grassroots to the party’s political strategy. These team will work all over the country from Tuesday (December 26th) to December 30th. Through this, the directives of Khaleda Zia will be given to the grassroots from the centre, as well as advice from the grassroots to determine the political strategy in 2018.
According to sources, the aim of these 70 teams of BNP is to organise events and views exchange programs locally to press home the party’s agenda.
At the same time, after talking to local activists, the teams will determine the political strategy of the party in the New Year.
BNP leaders believe that if the government does not come to the negotiation table, an anarchic situation may arise in the country.
“The government has to bear the responsibility. In the meantime, due to the unrest in the country, there has been severe dissatisfaction among the public. With this, the overall economy of the country is not normal. Keeping these issues in mind, and to strengthen the grassroots through Khaleda Zia’s message from the centre, the 70 specials teams have become operational across the country to put BNP on the map again,” a senior BNP leader said.
Strengthening diplomatic ties
In addition to mounting pressure on the government to sit at the negotiation table, BNP leaders said they would try to convince some powerful countries, especially the United States and India, to help hold the election in a credible and participatory manner.
Preferring to be anonymous, a member of the party’s foreign affairs wing said: “It’s very important for us to win the election. We need to concentrate on all-out measures for a free and fair election. And there is no alternative to improving ties with the United States and India in this connection.”
He claimed that New Delhi felt aggrieved as the current Awami League-led government joined Beijing’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” initiative and bought submarines from its archrival, China.
India is unhappy with the government as it fails to bring stability to Bangladesh’s uncertain and volatile banking sector, he added.
“Many Indian nationals are employed in different banks in our country. So, as a neighbouring country, India will want to see our economic stability, and law and order situation uninterrupted.
“But the Awami League failed to gain points from these two vital issues. On top of that, uncertainty in the banking sector is on the rise. So, in such circumstances, inducing New Delhi to facilitate a fair and inclusive election is a must for us.”
He also emphasised strengthening the BNP’s ties with Washington ahead of the polls.
Focus on non-violent programmes
According to party insiders, Khaleda Zia is now focusing only on holding peaceful programmes to get the demands met, and she advised her party men to engage in peaceful demonstrations.