So, everything is happening within and outside the BNP. The party has been in disarray for the last couple of years.
Weaknesses and subsequent failures in organising the party ranks and implementing effective anti-government movements have exposed further cracks along the party line.
More damaging for the party hierarchy has been the continuing cold rift among top and mid-ranking leaders. It reached the lowest tier in the local polls issues. Rebels that have emerged vying for local positions have added to the woes.
It now appears that only the chairperson is holding her rank securely. She is struggling to get the best out of the senior leaders. There’s no doubt that she is frustrated.
Begum Zia is considering massive change in her party’s leadership, sending clear signals to those who failed to impress party workers and the people at large.
Advisers have been picking up wrong threads to reinvigorate the party movements, ignoring the promising issues that could easily catch the government in the wrong foot.
Inside sources say many top ranking leaders are considering opting out of the responsibilities they were supposed to carry out.
While failing to convince the people of their conviction towards party policy, the leaders never seemed to be looking for better alternatives of a movement, or applying constitutional measures.
Add to it the harsh measures taken by the government to foil any move by the BNP and its allies to disrupt ruling party actions and initiatives.
The surge of arrests of the senior and mid-ranking leaders finally swept them to the farthest corner of the political ground. The government has been absolutely uncompromising.
A series of cases have been instituted against the leaders, and they have been ceaselessly chased and kept under legal pressure.
However, the party can take solace from the recently held local government polls. BNP-backed candidates have performed well against those backed by the ruling party.
The first two phases have been sweet comebacks for the opposition. The third phase outcome (81 upazilas) went for the ruling party backed contestants, but narrowly.
The grassroots level politics and power has not been lost altogether. The party should now capitalise on the victories achieved in the local levels. How well they respond remains to be seen.
There remains the Jamaat factor. The party has to come up with a clear stand regarding Jamaat. It should have realised a long time back that BNP alone is strong and popular enough to take on any opposition in the polls and in parliament.
With regards the ruling party, there has been a marked change in its attitude immediately after the national polls of January. It was somewhat lenient in speech (but not in act) just prior to the polls, even hinting at a possible re-election shortly after the January 5 polls.
What we behold now need not be the right picture. There’s the other side of the coin. The government shows complacency and wears a laid back attitude after consolidating its position after the January 5 polls.
The ruling party is in power, but not in control of things. It is not easy to be the champions of democracy. Upazilas are supposed to be the grassroots democracy bastions. Party cadres and supporters are openly using force to rig the polls.
Reports show brazen use of muscle in stuffing false votes, snatching of ballot boxes, and the forceful occupying of polling centres. It goes on without shame or fear.
The Chhatra League has gone out of control. BCL cadres have taken the law in their own hands, and have taken up the role of the police in using force in the open. They dare to claim that their actions are valid.
Thus far, people witnessed police and AL activists jointly conducting anti-opposition operations, now the party leader and activists have overtaken the police.
The OC and his juniors were made to apologise for trying to prevent an AL rally in a district town. Imagine the dangers that we are inviting, and the precedence the ruling party is setting.
The AL cannot afford to be unworried. It should rather take note of things and, like the BNP, it should also redesign its thoughts and actions.
The old politics of bullying will be over soon. People are tired. Muscle cannot be a permanent feature of any politics.
You will have to win the people, not beat them. History is replete with instances of “people’s power” that can destroy citadels of oppression and corruption.
Bangladesh politics has entered a phase of change. In the coming years, the parties will be bound to think differently, and there has to be positive change. We cannot be negative any longer, for we have reached our lowest.