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Dhaka Tribune

How to attack the opposition

Update : 26 Apr 2015, 06:03 PM

BNP chief Khaleda Zia’s motorcade for her city polls campaign came under attack by a section of the ruling party front organisations such as Bangladesh Chhatra League, Jubo League, and others, according to media reports.

The common people, who welcomed the government’s city polls card as an escape route for the BNP-led alliance, the party that is largely responsible for the violent petrol-bomb politics which has been going on since January 6, have raised their collective eye brows at the attacks on a three-time premier. The role of the police has once again frustrated the citizenry as they did not take the appropriate measures to foil the attacks which took place in Karwan Bazar.

This near inertial role of the police must stop, and the BNP chief would have been given a chance to launch their electoral campaign, subjected to full compliance with the code of conduct. A sense of uneasy calm grips people, who are basically apprehensive of BNP would restarting its hartal-blockade-petrol-bomb brand of politics.

The BNP alleged that the attacks were aimed with the motive of killing Khaleda Zia, following some “provocative” comments Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made on her arch foe’s electoral campaign.

Personally, I do not think the attacks were perpetuated to kill Khaleda Zia. The attacks, with or without the AL leadership’s nod, were the acts of some over-enthusiastic leaders of the front bodies, no doubt, mainly to please Sheikh Hasina. The attackers will use their photos which appear in the media and social media as leverage in the party rank and file. They would be thankful to the media for making them “netas.”

In case of a change of in government, many of the attackers would switch to the ruling party. In case of arrests, their party would put up posters demanding their release ... a fortune indeed.

A common scenario in Bangladesh, in every party, be it small or large: Some lower-level leaders instigate rival parties campaigning near their rallies, processions, or offices, either by throwing brickbats or hurling abusive words at the party leaders. Thus, scuffles or acts of vandalism are frequent. The reality is people will always take the side of the victim, not the attacker; and in this particular situation, the people’s sympathy will go to the BNP and Khaleda Zia.

It is hard to ascertain whether the AL leadership had instructed its ruffians to attack Khaleda Zia, but it will not be unfair to say that the ruling party wants the BNP chief to go back to its politics of violence, hartals, and blockades.

Khaleda Zia has been campaigning for the mayoral polls as if it is the general election, defying her bad health conditions, to reorganise her party leadership, and also to mend the mistakes she made after January 5 through her non-stop blockade and hartals. The AL has branded BNP-Jamaat as militant organisations, both home and abroad, exploiting the sufferings of the victims of petrol bombings and the destruction caused during the blockade-hartal.

AL prefers Khaleda Zia the “jongi netri” to Khaleda Zia the political leader, and BNP’s return to its politics of violence would fetch a good amount of political mileage for the the ruling party, of course, at the cost of the economy and the people’s well-being. It is easier to tackle a “militant BNP” than a political BNP, since the AL’s popularity has dipped because of general anti-government sentiments.

The AL should let BNP continue its political programs, accepting the reality that BNP are possibly not in any position to dislodge Sheikh Hasina through a mass upsurge. The ballot is the only way forward. It will also help the ruling party to reorganise itself for the next polls, local and national -- the party that led our struggle for independence must not sponsor the petty acts of petty leaders. 

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