The Bangladesh Awami League government is unlikely to provide the main opposition, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), any space to organise a public gathering in the capital on 8 February the day the verdict in BNP chief Khaleda Zia’s graft case is scheduled to be pronounced.
The government has already planned to deploy law enforcement personnel on the streets, create artificial crisis of mass transports and sue and arrest the opposition leaders and activists to intimidate them.
The ruling party thinks it will benefit if a frustrated BNP resorts to violence over the verdict, giving the government an excuse to suppress the BNP using the law enforcement.
AL leaders said the 30 January attack on the prison van allegedly by the BNP men helped the government to some extent to implement its plan.
The AL leaders argue the police showed restraint in dealing with 'aggresive' BNP men, a stand that, they say, would help them convince the people to take actions to address any possible situation on the day of judgement in Khaleda Zia's case.
“The BNP men attacked the police the way the militants do. We've reasons to be worried about what they would do on the day of Khaleda’s verdict. The law enforcement will be alert and any violence will be dealt with iron hand." said AL presidium member and health minister Mohammad Nasim.
He added that the AL and its 14-party alliance partners will also keep an eye on the BNP's activities.
Senior leaders of the ruling camp said they are aware that the BNP might try to hold huge gathering on the Khaleda judgement day.
In order to thwart the BNP's plan, they said, the law enforcers have worked out a number of strategies by this time.
Another AL presidium member, seeking anonymity, said to Prothom Alo that the government wants to assess the strength of the BNP and its alliance partners especially Jamaat-e-Islami, after the 2014-15 movement.
In the recent past, pro-ruling party transport leaders and workers played a strong role in stopping the BNP from holding rallies and protest demonstration.
Dhaka Transport Associaton has called a meeting on 6 February, two days before the verdict. Transport leaders have said their aim is to resist the BNP men from taking to the streets.
Dhaka Sarak Paribahan Samity (road transport association) general secretary Enayet Ullah alleged that the BNP-Jamaat alliance had in the past killed transport workers while holding demonstration. This time around, he added, their cadres will guard the terminals.
AL publicity secretary Hasan Mahmud said the AL activists will remain alert on the day of Khaleda judgement.
AL leaders say the government has 'all the weapons' to corner the BNP much before the elections. "The government wants the BNP exhaust its energy in Khaleda cases," one of them said.
* This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Norwin