BNP discusses ‘anti-India’ stance, decision at next meeting

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The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) considers the ‘India Out’ campaign as a ‘social movement’ and the party policymakers think the BNP should not be directly engaged in it.

The party, however, is yet to reach a decision on whether it would ignore the campaign that has already stirred discussion across the country or would maintain a strategic stance.

Several reliable sources of the key opposition party said the ‘India Out’ campaign and the upcoming upazila parishad elections were discussed at the party’s standing committee meeting on Monday night, but reached no decision on either of them. The decisions are likely to be taken at the next meeting of the party’s highest policy making body.

According to relevant sources, several standing committee members raised the ‘India Out’ campaign issue at the meeting citing the recent announcement on the boycott of Indian products by a responsible leader of the party.

A member asked whether the announcement on the boycott of Indian products by that certain leader was a party decision, and if so, where the decision was taken. Another member raised questions saying that the BNP is a major political party, and if the party announces the boycott of Indian products what the bilateral relation with India would be once BNP comes to power?

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Meeting sources said BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman informed the standing committee that the senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi gave his reaction to the ‘boycott Indian products’ movement in the view of his personal consideration and he clarified the matter to the media.

Earlier at a press conference on 20 March, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi endorsed the ‘India Out’ campaign by throwing his personal Indian shawl in front of the party’s Naya Paltan central office. The party leaders and activists set the shawl on fire.

Three days later, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi claimed at a press conference that they expressed solidarity with the ‘boycott Indian products’ movement, and that is for the people of Bangladesh, as well as for democracy, and people joined this cause out of their long-lasting deprivation, grievance and anger.

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Regarding the matter, BNP standing committee member Iqbal Hasan Mahmud told Prothom Alo on Tuesday, “Ruhul Kabir Rizvi has clarified that it (endorsement on India Out campaign) is his personal decision.”

Sources at the meeting said though several members slightly expressed discontent, everyone agreed that the call to boycott Indian products is the outcome of the people’s anger. They think the role that India played openly in the last three parliamentary elections of Bangladesh to keep the ruling Awami League in power, was against the aspirations of the people of Bangladesh, as well as democracy. Taking the matter into consideration, BNP should assess its relations with neighbouring India and clarify its stance on recent social movement of boycotting Indian products.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, however, told Prothom Alo that no serious discussion has been held on this issue so far, and the matter will be discussed further.

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It has been learned after talking to several standing committee members and responsible leaders that they think people called for boycotting Indian products out of their anger accumulated from misrule, rampant corruption and deprivation of voting rights following the national election.

They said this is a social movement because people think that the incumbent Indian government and state mechanism both openly and secretly helped the Awami League to become so desperate and ruthless. Even though BNP faces loss directly, the party should not join this movement.

BNP’s international affairs committee chairman and standing committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury observed the ‘India Out’ campaign is a social movement. So, it should not be taken under the party’s consideration and the BNP does not need to join it either. Social movement relies on the conscience of people and that should go by as it is, he said.

Upazila parishad elections

BNP sources said the upazila parishad elections were also discussed at the standing committee meeting on Monday, with members expressing mixed reactions on participation in and boycott of the upcoming local government polls.

Several members advised maintaining a strategic position and in that case, the party will neither encourage anyone to take part in the election nor take stern organisational stances against anyone participating in the poll.

Most members, however, said since the election of the Supreme Court Bar Council was not held fairly, participation in any election under this government will bring nothing but deception repeatedly.

Speaking about this, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said no to any election under this Awami League government.

He told Prothom Alo, “Despite being in power, the Awami League is in a fragile state. For this reason, they castigate the BNP all the time. Our participation in this election would bring relief for them. That is why they have withdrawn their electoral symbol from the elections.”

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