There were instructions to the individuals concerned for preventing all sorts of programmes called by the BNP outside Dhaka. As a result, two BNP men were shot dead by the police in Bhola in August. Later, the party chalked out a series of programmes across the country.

Meanwhile, a Jubo Dal activist died in police firing in Narayanganj on 1 September and the BNP then called rallies in 16 areas of the capital until 27 September.

The concerned sources said the BNP will be able to hold rallies in Nayapaltan and Press Club areas without any hindrance. There will be barriers if it attempts to hold programmes in other areas.

BNP held the first three rallies of the series of programmes in Dhaka uninterruptedly, but the rest came under attack at different levels.

According to the ruling party’s policy-making level, the government initially assumed that the BNP would conduct their routine activities. But the way the BNP is energising their partymen through series of programmes has made the ruling party uneasy.

Finally, the Awami League men started to restrict the BNP programmes with various tactics.

However, Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbub Ul Alam Hanif told Prothom Alo that BNP leaders and activists are very aggressive and there are efforts to instigate the ruling party men.

He also said no one will set restrictions to peaceful programmes of BNP. But Awami League will surely protest if instigative activities are carried out.

In August, the ruling party’s Dhaka city unit leaders contacted the high ups to know the government’s attitude towards the BNP. They received a message that the opposition party can hold programmes in Dhaka city subject to approval from the police.

But at the beginning of the current month, they have been instructed to stay in the streets with various programmes.

Two leaders of Dhaka south and north unit Awami League said they received a message for not allowing the BNP to hold any programme outside the Nayapaltan and Press Club areas.

There is no explicit action plan from the high command, but local lawmakers, party leaders and other associate organisations will take steps as per the situation.

The government wanted the BNP to hold political programmes on a limited scale to lure it to participate in the next polls. But the strategy apparently boomeranged as the BNP adopted a policy to put pressure on the ruling party through large gatherings on various issues.

The ruling party has no central action plan to counter the BNP programmes outside the Nayapaltan and Press Club areas. The local lawmakers and party leaders will announce programmes and occupy the field.

Some of the ruling party leaders think that the fear that the government instilled in BNP leaders and activists over the last six to seven years is disappearing through the recent series of programmes. If they manage to continue their programmes despite assaults and pressures, it will be difficult to suppress them as a victorious attitude will be instilled among them.

Two central leaders of Awami League told Prothom Alo on the condition of anonymity that the government has actually been in a dilemma over the BNP issue. They want the BNP in the election and, at the same time, do not want to relieve pressure from the party.

The government does not welcome any change in the current comfortable state that it has been enjoying for the last seven years keeping the opposition under pressure, they said.

The ruling party wants a weak BNP in the field. But the BNP is trying to show itself as a well-organised force taking advantage of the chance to take to the streets after a long time. Besides, the current political strategy of BNP is quite different from that of 2014 and 2015.

It has become a matter of concern for the ruling party how to implement two strategies simultaneously – pressuring the BNP and giving it concessions.

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