After a graft conviction sent BNP Chairperson and former prime ministerKhaleda Zia to prison, the Awami League top brass now thinks that there will be a split within the BNP centring on the party’s participation in the 11th parliamentary polls due in December this year.
Before the verdict was delivered on February 8, there were already noises in the country’s political arena that ruling Awami League was trying to cause a rupture in the BNP, its political arch-rival, and the BNP-led 20-party alliance.
Seeking anonymity, several senior Awami League leaders told the Dhaka Tribune that splitting BNP is now a matter of time, because, they said, a faction of the party will ultimately agree to join the polls under the current Hasina administration.
They also believe that splitting BNP through political maneuvering is not morally wrong.
Mentioning that there is no option left for the BNP without participating in the next election, Awami League insiders claimed that a faction of BNP leaders still bemoans their top brass’ decision to stay out of the January 5 elections.
A senior Awami League leader and minister in the government claimed that several BNP leaders had already expressed their interest in participating in the election.
However, an Awami League presidium member said: “No one from the Awami League is trying to split BNP, but BNP leaders will themselves rip their party and alliance for their own interest.
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“Some BNP leaders want to participate in the election. And we, as a democratic party, will certainly give them space to contest the polls. There is nothing wrong with this.”
Food Minister Qamrul Islam, who is also a member of the Awami League’s central committee, said the process of splitting BNP started when the party amended its constitution and made a fugitive Tarique Rahman its acting chairman.
“Let’s see how long it takes for BNP to fall apart.”
Addressing a program in Cox’s Bazar on Monday, Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister ObaidulQuader claimed that BNP had amended its constitution to protect its corrupt and convicted leaders.
“BNP leaders are enough to intensify their crisis. Our camp need not conspire to do so.”
Echoing Qamrul and Obaidul, Awami League Presidium member and Health Minister Mohammad Nasim said BNP would fall apart in a very short span of time.
BNP aware of AL’s plot
However, BNP leaders said the ruling party’s effort to harm the BNP’s unity and that of the 20-party alliance will never succeed.
In the past, Awami League tried several times to cause a split in the BNP, but their efforts went in vain, they alleged.
Also Read - Fakhrul: No national election without Khaleda Zia
Before the verdict was delivered, BNP chief Khaleda called on her party members to remain united under all circumstances, saying “there will be various plots and repressive acts against you. They will try to harass you in every way, but don’t be afraid.”
“Those, who maintain [secret] contacts with the government and will betray BNP, can be easily identified and they will not be forgiven this time,” she warned.
The party’s acting Chairman Tarique Rahman, who has also been convicted in several cases, said they are aware of “the government's plot” to harm their unity and warned of strict actions if anyone ever tries to betray the party.
Several top BNP leaders told the Dhaka Tribune that they, too, are aware of “a possible conspiracy by the government” to split BNP, adding that they are ready to foil all such plots.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the verdict against their chairperson, Khaleda, would not cause damage to their party. “Rather, it [verdict] boosted our morale and strengthened unity. The government will never succeed in its efforts to split our party.”
BNP Standing Committee member Mirza Abbas said: “Awami League has long been trying their utmost to keep BNP out of the next election. But they will never be successful, and there will be no election in the country without Khaleda Zia and BNP.”