Party sources have said that BNP is drawing up a political plan of action keeping the coming 2023 parliamentary elections in mind. A draft outline has been prepared. The six-day series of meetings carried out in two phases, was held to get the view of central executive committee leaders at various levels, in order to finalise the draft. The objective is to increase the participation of leaders and activists in future movements and to consolidate the party's unity and solidarity. In that sense the party has been successful, the party leaders feel.

BNP standing committee member Gayeswar Chandra Roy, speaking to Prothom Alo, said, "We have taken the views of everyone regarding whatever programmes we may take up in the future. There are often allegations that programmes are forcefully imposed, but that has been resolved through this process."

Sources in BNP central office said that around 35 hours of discussion took place in the six days of the meeting, held in two phases of three days each. In this closed-door meeting, 281 leaders presented their opinions. Broadly speaking, they gave their views on the next parliamentary polls, release of the party chairperson, the failures and weaknesses of the party and the alliance, and other issues.

Certain sources present at the meeting said that there was consensus at the series of meetings that there can be no participation in any election under the present Awami League government. There is no alternative but to launch an all-out movement for neutral elections. No decision, however, was taken about joining the next parliamentary election. The issue pertaining to relations with alliance partner Jamaat-e-Islami and Jatiya Oikya Front has also not been determined as yet.

BNP's Khulna division organising secretary and Khulna city BNP president Nazrul Islam (Manju) feels that the six-day meeting was "extremely positive."

Speaking to Prothom Alo on Friday, he said, "This is the first time in the last three years that BNP has held a meeting with leaders at the field level and it is making a decision about what the party's politics will be in the future. This is very important. I feel that BNP will rectify its mistakes and come up with an effective and constructive plan."

The meetings had created a stir in the party and have had a positive impact on the leaders and activists
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, BNP secretary general

In the first phase of the six-day meeting, discussions were held from 14 to 16 September. The second three days was from 21 to 23 September. Invitations to join the meetings were sent to 525 of the 584 members of the party's central executive committee and the BNP chairperson's advisory council. At the meeting, 281 persons presented their views. Acting chairman of BNP, Tarique Rahman, joined the meeting virtually.

Sources said the party is sending show cause notices to those who did not turn up at these executive committee meetings held after so long. It was learnt that 68 leaders did not attend the meetings.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said that the meetings had created a stir in the party and have had a positive impact on the leaders and activists.

He said, at the meetings the leaders basically gave their views and suggestions concerning the release of the party chairperson, revival of democracy and the prevailing political situation. The party's policymaking board would now review these opinions. Then guidelines will be given for a future plan of action.

BNP sources said that the plan of action will be drawn up on the basis of the opinions that were voiced at the six-day meeting. Before that, the BNP leaders will hold meetings with various professional bodies and political parties to discuss the issues of democracy, elections, voting rights and good governance.

Political analyst and professor of Dhaka University, Asif Nazrul, feels that BNP has still not been able to build up a large coalition. If they can convince all the opposition parties that they will be able to establish good governance if they go to power, then they may be able to form a large coalition and carry out a successful movement.

However, the problem is that the BNP chairperson is restricted to her home under special provision. BNP will use this to their advantage. Also, the present government will use the strength it has gained by establishing full control over the state machinery. This will be a big challenge for BNP.

* This report appeared in the online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir

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