Replying to a question, the senior BNP leader said they did not postpone their rallies as they have only rescheduled those.

The fresh dates for the rallies in 32 districts will be announced later.

Amid the spike in Covid-19 cases with the apprehension of transmission of the highly infectious Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, the government last week imposed various restrictions, including public gatherings, social programmes, political and religious events that came into effect on Thursday.

Nazrul Islam said the government has imposed the restrictions on public rallies and gatherings in open spaces when local body elections are going on and the markets, shops and educational institutions remained open.

He said experts are saying the risk of the transmission of Omicron is less in open spaces than in closed ones. “But the government has been allowing public gatherings in closed spaces instead of in open ones. The main purpose of the restrictions is to obstruct our programmes of the ongoing movement as the government has failed to thwart those by imposing section 144,” he alleged.

The BNP leader further said the efforts of snatching people’s democratic rights by an “undemocratic” regime is normal.

BNP standing committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy said the government’s 11-point restriction to contain Covid-19 transmission is contradictory as it allows the ongoing elections to Narayanganj City Corporation and other local bodies.

“The government has so far not requested the election commission to suspend the local body polls considering the overall coronavirus situation. So, there’s no doubt that the ban on public rallies is politically motivated.”

On 5 January, BNP, the de facto opposition announced to hold rallies in its 40 more organisational districts from 8 January in the second phase to force the government to allow its ailing chairperson Khaleda Zia to go abroad for advanced medical treatment.

As per the schedule, the party was supposed to hold rallies in six days -- 8, 12, 15, 17, 22 and 24 January -- to mount pressure on the government to allow Khaleda Zia to go abroad for treatment.

The party inaugurated the second-phase programmes through a rally in Brahmanbaria on 8 January.

On 12 January, BNP arranged seven more rallies in its 12 organisational districts.

In the first phase, the party held rallies in 23 districts from 22 to 30 December last year to press home for the same demand.

Khaleda, a 76-year-old former prime minister, has been receiving treatment at Evercare Hospital for various health complications since 13 November last.

Her medical board members said Khaleda Zia immediately needs to go abroad for advanced treatment as she was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis.

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