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Dhaka Tribune

BNP may seek president’s intervention

Update : 18 Nov 2013, 08:10 PM

The confused political situation may take a new twist on Tuesday when Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia meets President Abdul Hamid to discuss the latest developments and try to work out a way through the impasse.

The BNP chairperson moved to seek an appointment with the president less than an hour after eight new ministers had been sworn in at the Bangabhaban on Monday afternoon.

The president agreed a meet time of 6:30pm on Tuesday, officials at the BNP chairperson’s office and the presidential palace confirmed.

The sudden move by the BNP chief came as a surprise to some front-ranking leaders, while many in the hierarchy expressed their ignorance about what Khaleda Zia might discuss at the meeting with President Hamid. 

Some of the central leaders, however, guessed that the BNP chairperson might request the president to head the polls-time government.

At least five Standing Committee members, four advisers and three vice-chairmen contacted by the Dhaka Tribune on Monday evening said they had no idea about the chairperson even seeking the president’s appointment, never mind the issues she might raise.

However, Vice-Chairman of the party Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury told the Dhaka Tribune: “We sought the appointment with the president.”

Monjur Hossain, secretary to the President’s Secretariat, said last evening: “I have heard that the

President has granted them time for a meeting.”

BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said Khaleda would lead a 20-member delegation of the 18-party alliance in the talks with the president.

“I have just heard the news from you…How can I say who will accompany Khaleda Zia during her visit?” a Standing Committee member of the party told the Dhaka Tribune, seeking anonymity.

Another Standing Committee member said he did not know who had advised Khaleda to seek appointment of the president. “I was decided to go to the chairperson’s office but now I will not go as madam [Khaleda] did not make the decision in consultation with the party’s senior leaders. If madam calls me, only then I will go, otherwise not,” he said.

Party insiders say the BNP chief might tell the president that they would accept anyone non-partisan as the chief of the polls-time government, excepting the incumbent prime minister. “The president is a good human being. If he administers the election, the party may participate in the elections,” a leader said.

The leaders believe before going for non-stop hartal and blockade programmes, the party wants to inform the president about the latest political situation and the party’s stances, too.

“The president is the last resort. The government is moving towards a lopsided election. So, madam [Khaleda] might inform him of the latest political situation of the country and at the same time the party stances, too,” Mahbubur Rahman, a Standing Committee member of the party, said.

A BNP leader told the Dhaka Tribune that most of them did not think the outcome of the meeting with the president would be anything big but “we are still meeting him to send the message that the party has tried even at the utmost level” to resolve the crisis.

The leader said if there was no real possibility of a dialogue, the party would go for tougher programmes such as continuous blockade after its demonstration on Friday.

It would be Khaleda Zia’s first meeting with President Abdul Hamid after he assumed the office on April 24.

Earlier on January 11, 2012, Khaleda met the then president Zillur Rahman and requested him to restore the polls-time non-party caretaker government system to the constitution before discussing the issue of reconstituting the Election Commission.

The oath-taking of new ministers during the US Assistant Secretary Nisha Desai Biswal’s visit to Bangladesh irked the main opposition’s rank and file members, who also vented their frustration even after new ministers were sworn in.

The mid-ranking and grassroots do not know what the party is doing; even many of the Standing Committee members do not know about the party’s next course of action.

A senior leader said he was “in the dark” about the party’s next course of action.

“I have received phone calls from my constituency since Sunday night over the next course of action. As I am in the dark I failed to give them any directive further,” he said.

The grassroots, who consider Khaleda Zia as an “uncompromising” leader, expressed grievances against the senior leaders’ silence, saying they would not face any problem if the incumbent government assumed office for the next five years but the situation would be worse at the grassroots.

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