With barely two months left before parliament dissolves, BNP has planned to backtrack from its earlier hard-line oust-government campaigns, apparently to retain the public support it has garnered during city corporation polls.
Earlier, the senior leaders including party Chief Khaleda Zia threatened to wage vigorous movements after Eid-ul-Fitr, but the party has decided to give the government more time, namely until Eid-ul-Azha, to resolve the prevailing political standoff.
Party insiders said they want to exercise maximum restraint given Eid-ul-Azha, Durga Puja and diplomatic concerns.
“We are giving some more time to the government. We want to convey a message to the people as well as to diplomats that we do not want violence and confrontation,” said a senior BNP leader.
“At the same time, we also know the government will not comply to our demand. By that time, the people and diplomats will have a positive impression about us. After that, if we go for hard programmes people will be with us,” he said on Tuesday.
Talking to a number of senior leaders, it was learned that party leaders believed the government would not accept their demand, and that organisational tours were announced mainly to launch a campaign against the one-party election.
Party Chairperson Khaleda Zia will hold rallies on September 8 in Narsingdi, September 15 in Rajshahi, September 16 in Rangpur, September 22 in Khulna, September 28 in Barisal and October 5 in Sylhet. Party senior leaders too will visit the 75 organisational districts.
BNP announced these programmes at a press briefing at the party’s Nayapaltan office on Monday around 12pm.
BNP insiders said if the government does not pay heed, Khaleda Zia will call upon her party men to lay siege to the capital, from a Chittagong meeting yet to be scheduled.
And before the expiration of the government’s tenure, Khaleda Zia will hold a meeting in the capital, from where she will issue a 24-hour ultimatum to the government, and then sit-in and non-stop movement programmes will be announced, they said.
Standing Committee Member Tariqul Islam said they did not want any unrest in the country, and that is why no hard programme had been announced.
“The BNP is a democratic party. That’s why time has been given to the government to realise the people’s pulse. Meanwhile, we will strengthen our organisational capacity and observe the government’s behaviour, then announce the next course of action,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Khaleda Zia on Saturday in a meeting with the standing committee members reiterated that she would not take part in the election under the incumbent government.
“Even if the Awami League holds one-party election, it cannot stay in power for long. We will take over the office, though it might take time,” a senior leader said, quoting Khaleda. When Khaleda asked for opinions from her standing committee colleagues on the strategy of the movement, a former minister who was jailed during the army-backed caretaker government asked her her not to pursue a tough programme.
“If we go for tough movements right now, we have to halt it halfway through during the Eid-ul Azha and Durga Puja,” said a leader who attended the meeting, requesting anonymity.
“By then the movement will die down, and many leaders and activists will be arrested, which will ultimately weaken the movement,” he said.
Earlier on August 12, US Ambassador Dan W Mozena held a meeting with BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, where Mozena expressed his reservation about hartals. Khaleda stated that she would try to avoid hartals.