Govt won’t let BNP’s rally be a success

Home minister Asaduzzaman KhanFile photo

The ruling Awami League, the administration and the law enforcement agencies will directly take a stance on the streets during the Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) divisional rally in Dhaka on 10 December.

Their main goal is not to let BNP show their organisational strength and and also to prevent a massive gathering at the rally. Although this will result in public suffering, the government or the ruling party is not thinking about any alternative. 

Sources in the government and Awami League’s policy makers said this, adding that the government and the administration created several obstructions indirectly during the other divisional rallies of BNP.

Although police are in discussion with the BNP, the government is deviating from its stern stance regarding the venue of the BNP’s rally in Dhaka. The government is proceeding with the plan to block capital Dhaka on 10 December.

So far the plan is to keep Dhaka and adjacent areas literally under the control of the Awami League leaders and activists and the law enforcement agencies so that it becomes impossible for BNP to create a massive gathering overcoming obstructions in phases.

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Speaking regarding this, the government sources say the law enforcement agencies have already started a special drive ahead of the BNP’s rally. This drive was taken up to tackle the BNP’s 10 December-rally and their future activities.

Financers of BNP’s programmes, organisers who can bring leaders and activists and area wise active leaders will be made the target in this drive.

The law enforcement agencies will take a further stricter stance after the end of the council of Bangladesh Chhatra League, one of Awami League’s major associate bodies, on 6 December.

The law enforcement agency may set up check posts at different entry points of Dhaka or on the roads towards Dhaka.

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On condition of anonymity, a senior leader of ruling Awami League told Prothom Alo that BNP wants to put the government under pressure through their rally in Dhaka. However, the government has put the BNP in a bit of a quandary with the position that the rally should be held in Suhrawardy Udyan and not on the road in Nayapaltan. The rest will be done by the Awami League leaders and the activists.

That senior leader says it’s true that the government’s strict stance regarding the venue of BNP’s rally will spark criticism. However the government feels that it is important to show the administration and the people involved in politics that the situation is under the control of the government.

Now the situation is such that the BNP will not be able to even take a stance in the Naya Paltan area if they want to hold the rally there. They may be allowed to hold the rally at a limited scale if they agree to hold it at the Suhrawardy Udyan or any other suburban areas.

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Speaking to Prothom Alo, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Monday said, “BNP has been told that they will not be allowed to hold the rally on the roads. We will see if they want to hold it in Mirpur or any other place. If they nevertheless want to hold the rally on the roads despite all these, police will have no way other than clearing them.”

Speaking regarding the preparations of the ruling Awami League and the police ahead of BNP’s 10 December-rally, the home minister said, “It’s the duty of the police and the law enforcement agencies to be on alert all the time. Already the leaders and activists of Awami League are charged up with different programmes of the party. They will also be on alert for any possible vandalism and fire."

No chance of taking position in advance

BNP’s first divisional rally was held in Chattogram on 12 October. Since then, BNP leaders and activists have been taking positions in the venue a day prior to the rally. Many came to the venue from remote areas with dry foods like flattened rice and puffed rice.

According to the sources in the government, the law enforcement agencies won’t give the BNP leaders and activists any chance to take position at the venue in advance regardless of the venue of the rally. In order to ensure that, then law enforcement agencies will be conducting drives and search operations in messes, hotels and houses of prominent leaders of BNP in Dhaka. Besides, there will be a massive deployment of law enforcement agencies at all the important points in the city, including the Naya Paltan area.

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The police have the plan to set up multi-layer security posts at the entry points of Dhaka three to four days prior to the day of the rally to prevent people from remote areas from joining the rally. Apart from that, leaders and activists of Awami League in Dhaka city, Dhaka district, Gazipur, Narayaganj, Narsingdi and other districts near the capital, have been told to remain alert.

The sources in the transport sector, there is no instruction to call on strike in Dhaka and adjacent districts so far. However, the movement of vehicles will decrease naturally in fear even if there is no such direction.

The reason behind the government being so strict

Sources in the Awami League say, the leaders and activists of BNP are charged with the massive gatherings during the party’s different divisional rallies held recently. The members and activists of BNP have already started seeing them in power. Already, there have been discussions among the government employees regarding this. There are also talks as to how massive will be the rally of BNP or whether the activists of BNP will take a stance on the streets at the end of the rally or not. Therefore, the government decided to become strict in this regard.

Seeking anonymity, some leaders of Awami League at the policy making level told Prothom Alo that their target is to all the hopes of BNP and to ensure that the party cannot display their 10-December rally as an ‘achievement’.

A responsible source of Awami league says that BNP held meetings with like-minded political parties before their divisional rally. The Jatiya Party, the main opposition in the parliament, is yet to clear whether they will continue to be with the government or join the opposition parties.

It is being assumed that other parties may join BNP’s programme declared from the 10-December rally in future. That is, a simultaneous movement against the government, for which the BNP has been working for so long, will gain momentum. A successful rally of BNP in Dhaka will expedite the simultaneous movement against the government. And if BNP fails to do so, other parties will think twice before taking to the streets.

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Speaking regarding this to Prothom Alo, Abdur Razzaque, Awami League’s presidium member and the agriculture minister, said, “The main target of BNP is not holding the rally. Rather, they want to establish that they have paralysed the city through their rally. The government simply cannot let this happen. The past history of the BNP is mired in clashes and violence. Therefore, the government and Awami League are quite cautious about them. The government won’t intervene if BNP holds their rally at the Suhrawardy Udyan."