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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

BNP embroiled in dispute between hardliners and liberals

  • One quarter looks to London
  • Liberals kept under pressure
  • New programs not decided yet
Update : 12 Apr 2024, 09:24 AM

A quarter of the BNP’s central leaders, mostly mid-ranking office bearers, are active to keep in touch with acting chairman Tarique Rahman, who has been leading the party from the UK for over 15 years.

This clique is actively trying to corner some prominent leaders of the liberal section, including Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and propagating the rumour that he would be removed from his post.

Meanwhile, the party has yet to come up with a detailed program to continue the anti-government movement, which has stumbled after the January 7 election. The high-ranking leaders are not making any comments about the party’s political future since the new programs have not been prepared yet.

Although these issues were supposed to be discussed in the last meeting of the Standing Committee, it was not done in the end. Meeting sources said the secretary general expressed a position on the successes and failures of the movement before election. After Mirza Fakhrul's analysis, some members of the Standing Committee were outraged.

A leader of the Standing Committee, asking not to be named, said: "Although the successes and failures of the movement were discussed, the new program and political strategy did not come up for discussions. I hope it will be set soon.”

Talking to Bangla Tribune on April 8, another senior leader said many want a change in the leadership since they have been in the same position for a long time and failed to make the movements a success. “A quarter is working strongly within the party to remove Mirza Fakhrul from the post of secretary general. One of the main arguments is that he failed to wage a successful movement and that the ruling Awami League has become very comfortable in his case.”

Others who support Mirza Fakhrul argue that despite failure in the movement, he has been leading the party in absence of the two top leaders—Chairperson Khaleda Zia and Tarique—and has served jail terms in various cases. They say his experience and sacrifice and devotion to the party and the Zia family are beyond question.

BNP’s heir, Tarique Rahman, has been sentenced in absentia to different jail terms in five cases, including a life term for the August 21 grenade attack plot and 10 years for the Zia Orphanage Trust scandal. He has been staying in London with his wife and daughter after securing bail in 2008.

Seeking anonymity, a responsible leader of the party said: "Basically, several groups are active in putting pressure on Mirza Fakhrul. Among them are a section within the party and instigations by several agencies of the government. At the same time, efforts to corner several liberal leaders are also going on equally. They are also influencing the like-minded media in this case.”

Standing Committee Member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury termed Mirza Fakhrul’s removal nonsense. “We are working together. I don't know anything like that. I don't see anything to worry about in the post of secretary general. He is already politically acceptable, he is a good person, a worthy person.”

On condition of anonymity, another member of the Standing Committee said: "Those who are discussing the change of secretary general can say on what basis they are doing it. The process of downplaying one person and highlighting another is very harmful. This is not correct.”

All eyes on London

Several leaders of the central committee said that competition has started to establish a connection with Tarique Rahman among the mid-level leaders of the party.

Sources say that after the 12th national elections, Tarique Rahman started adding and subtracting to the organizational structure of the party. Several leaders were appointed to senior positions, a move questioned since seniority has been undermined.

In the last two months, at least 10 to 12 leaders have been inducted into the central committee. At least seven BNP leaders spoke to this reporter regarding the changes, but none of them agreed to comment on the record.

The senior leaders are largely silent about the trend. They are looking for the rationale behind the successes and failures of the movement. They are discussing whether the simultaneous anti-government movement will continue, in what process new programs will come, and whether there will be an alliance with Jamaat.

"Since no roadmap has been formulated, the senior leaders have refrained from publicly expressing their political stance for the coming days. Even the secretary general of the BNP is silent about it. He is giving general statements,” said a senior leader, asking not to be named.

Aim is to continue peaceful programs

Several leaders of the BNP Standing Committee and the central committee said a decision has already been taken to hold the future political programs in a peaceful and democratic manner. What kind of new program will be given, from when it will be given, has not been discussed yet.

Earlier, the party adopted a strategy to strengthen its grassroots in the month of Ramadan. The released leaders and activists were also felicitated with flower bouquets at various places.

Shayrul Kabir Khan, a member of BNP's media cell, said that at least 1,000 Iftar parties were held across the country during Ramadan. Except for a few large events, most of the celebrations were held in open fields, with small meals. This has created new enthusiasm among the activists.

Meanwhile, the top leaders of the party hosted an Iftar party in honour of the foreign diplomats on March 24 while Dr Moyeen Khan sat with four ambassadors at his Gulshan residence on April 8.

Another key leader of the party said there is a discussion about whether to declare new programs after Ramadan or the Eid-ul-Azha.

Standing Committee Member Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan said: "Our main responsibility during the month of fasting was to arrange bail for those in jail in false and fabricated cases. We believe in the rule of law.

“Apart from this, we stood by their relatives and inquired about those who are out of jail. We have made satisfactory progress in this work. We are working on the other issues that are incomplete. Meanwhile, the movement to bring back democracy will continue.”

The former minister added: "We are still in the same position of working to restore democracy in Bangladesh. But now we are discussing the method of achieving the goal. The programs will be finalized in the future. We have decided on one thing: this movement will be in a peaceful and orderly manner.”

Amir Khosru said: "We are working on this. The program will be given on time.”

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