BNP displeased with lack of coordination

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After the BNP's grand rally was foiled by clashes between BNP leaders and the law enforcers on 28 October, the party has enforced blockades for 20 days in ten phases and hartals for four days in three phases.

These programmes continued for for one and half months and now a slackness has emerged.

As the voting day is nearing, disappointment among the leaders and activists has been increasing.

BNP sources said the party will continue tough programmes until the election.

The 36-hour nationwide blockade from today, Tuesday, has been called by the BNP and marks the eleventh round of such blockades, scheduled to conclude at 6:00 pm tomorrow, Wednesday. This would be blockades for 22 days in eleven phases.

BNP leaders said the party programme may become lax come due repression by the government. However, the time has not ended. Time will remain till 7 January, election day. There will be results if the programmes can be continued till the date.

Now it is necessary to maintain party unity and solidarity. The leaders are optimistic as the party could not be split despite pressure and offers by the government.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Rajshahi city unit BNP convener Md Ershad Ali said, "We have proved through the programmes and movements that people are with the BNP. The government would have resigned if they had minimum shame or commitment to the people. But they want to stay in power with the help of the police. I believe we must win at a stage despite repression by the government as the people are still with us."

However, sources concerned said at this stage of movement programmes, there is criticism among the grassroots leaders and activists. There was a lack of coordination during the programmes for one and half months. Senior leaders including standing committee members have gone into hiding in fear of arrest. BNP leaders and activists are not that visible on the streets, especially in the capital Dhaka.

The BNP leaders who are keeping watch on the hartals and blockades, said Jubo Dal, Chhatra Dal and Swechhasebak Dal are mainly observing the programmes. The main party BNP is not being seen in that way.
Sources at the high level said the BNP top leadership is a bit worried over the matter. Two leaders have been assigned to find the cause and increase the presence of district core leaders and activists in the programmes.

They are BNP student affairs secretary Rakibul Islam (Bakul) and Jubo Dal president Sultan Salauddin. They have already talked virtually to top leaders of organising districts and associate bodies. BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman also talked to top leaders of divisional and district levels.

A source said the acting chairman strongly assured the grassroots leaders saying there is 'good news'.

BNP top leadership and assigned leaders reminded the grassroots leaders that they would not be spared if the government easily holds the 7 January elections. All will be sentenced and there will be no options, but to languish in jail.

Many have been disheartened by the step to assignRakibul Islam and Salauddin Tuku to talk to district level leaders, avoiding the senior leaders. In some cases, other leaders have been disheartened for talking to only two leaders at the district level.

It is learnt partners in the simultaneous movement have different opinions over the BNP's ongoing movements and programmes. Many think the movement is being marred due to lack of coordination in the BNP leadership and realistic plans.

They noted BNP had no plan of several tiers of volunteers over the grand rally on 28 October. The volunteers BNP should have kept to Kakrail and Bijoynagar areas were not deployed for security purposes. Moreover, there was no preparation to face such a situation.

Preferring not to be named, a top leader of Ganatantra Mancha involved in the BNP's simultaneous movement said, "We alerted the BNP over the grand rally. We said the government may create a situation by foiling the programme. But some of them said the rally of Jamaat-e-Islami may be foiled and pushed towards the BNP rally in Naya Paltan. But the opposite thing happened."

Speaking to Prothom Alo, BNP standing committee member Selima Rahman said, "BNP has been launching peaceful programmes since the beginning. But the government has been carrying out attacks, filing cases and unleashing violence since the beginning. They foiled the BNP grand rally in a planned manner and arrested the senior leaders in a bid to hold an election of their own. There is no lack of coordination or weakness in the BNP leadership."

Differing, BNP and other alliance leaders said although thousands of leaders and activists attended the grand rally, they could not be utilised during the hartal on the following day due to lack of coordination and pre-plan.

On the contrary, the government cashed in on the situation, unleashing fear in the next programmes by arresting several senior leaders. BNP stepped into the trap created by the government. As a result, BNP is to pay the price.

Former BNP MP and Khulna divisional ex-organising secretary Nazrul Islam Manju said, "I think the government set a trap but BNP didn't notice. Without understanding, BNP stepped into the trap. An assessment is required whether steps should have taken to take preparations for elections and movement simultaneously. More alternatives should have been kept, not only depending on the foreign countries. BNP has to turn around from the current situation. Otherwise, the party has to face a big crisis."

*This story, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam