Senior leaders of BNP have not been taken into confidence about several recent decisions of the party, including joining the parliament and participation in the Bogura election.
They have no idea how these decisions were taken either. These leaders are unhappy with the situation but remain silent as the decisions have come from the top level leadership.
A number of seniors in BNP have told Prothom Alo, on condition of anonymity, that the party leaders and workers are in a state of confusion over the issues of taking oath, joining parliament and contesting in the Bogura election.
Questions loom large as to where these decisions are being taken, at what level and through what process. The leaders are even uncertain whether the incarcerated party chairperson Khaleda Zia has any say in this process. These doubts were furthered when the party’s Bogura-6 election nomination form did not have Khaleda Zia’s signature.
The senior leaders are in a dilemma as to whether Khaleda Zia was at all agreeable to the party men taking oath and whether she had actually given any message about joining the Bogura polls.
The party’s standing committee had not discussed any of these vital issues, not even about putting forward candidates for the women’s reserved seats. The decisions reportedly came from the party’s exiled acting chairman Tarique Zia in London. Some of the leaders may have had an idea of what was transpiring, but most of these matters had been kept under covers.
However, BNP’s standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury said to Prothom Alo, “Nothing has taken place without Khaleda Zia’s consent. Anyone saying this, does not know the facts.” He added that there were differences within the party, but that was part and parcel of the party’s democracy.
Confusion, nevertheless, persists about the logic behind joining the parliament or taking part in the Bogura polls. The leaders ask, what could justify contesting in the seat where the party’s secretary general had refused to take oath? Also, nomination form for this seat had been taken in Khaleda Zia’s name, but she refused to sign. It had previously been speculated that Khaleda Zia would be freed on bail in exchange of their party men taking oath to parliament, but that did not happen.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir ruled out any link between the party joining the parliament and Khaleda Zia’s release. He said, “We went to parliament due to the prevailing political circumstances, in the interests of democracy and in the interests of our party. Begum Zia’s release will not be conditional, it will be done legally. She is entitled to be released on bail.”
Political scientist and former vice chancellor of Dhaka University Emajuddin Ahmed feels that it was foolish to consider nominating Khaleda Zia for the Bogura 6. He told Prothom Alo that it would be inappropriate to nominate the party chief to the seat where the secretary general had refused to take oath. That was a foolish and bad decision.
A number of central leaders try to justify the recent spate of decisions, saying that other than the secretary general, the other MPs-elect would have gone ahead to take oath, even against the party decision. If they were expelled, they would have formed a separate faction of BNP along with others. They would have put forward a candidate for Bogura too. That is why the party’s top leadership took these decisions, they maintained.
In this regard, two senior leaders of the party told Prothom Alo, if there were such apprehensions, the matter could have been discussed at the party forum. The manner in which the decisions were taken has left the leaders feeling redundant.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir