After rolling out the 10-point demands including parliamentary elections under a non-partisan caretaker government, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) will now announce state reforms. Following that, the party wants to start a larger simultaneous movement against the government in a non-violent way.
Party sources said they will announce soon as to what fundamental reforms they will bring along with other anti-government political parties. The party will announce a total of 27 pledges including forming a ‘constitution reform commission’ and establishing ‘a welfare-based national unity government’.
‘Ganatantra Mancha’, an alliance of seven political parties has already reached in an consensus with BNP over joining in a simultaneous movement. The simultaneous movement will start on 24 December by holding ‘mass rallies’ in all metropolitan cities including Dhaka and other districts. A liaison committee would be formed soon to this end, said BNP and alliance sources. Ganatantra Mancha has already sent a list of seven representatives to BNP and the party will select their representatives soon. BNP will hold meetings with other parties too with its 10-point demand and state reform proposal. They will take on board directly or indirectly the other political parties that are not components of the government.
BNP standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury told Prothom Alo on Monday, “The country would not stand on its own feet again without a big reform given the ditch it has fallen into due to their (ruling party) unbridled politicization, corruption and misrule. Only fundamental state reforms can save the country. We will announce our proposal of reforms soon.”
A responsible source of BNP, however, said the party’s mass rally programme on 24 December might be changed a bit. The mass rally in Dhaka might be postponed as Awami League’s central council in Dhaka’s Suhrawardy Udyan coincides with it. The rallies in other cities and districts are likely to be held on the same day. The matter was discussed at the BNP standing committee meeting last night.
BNP held 10 divisional rallies in the last two months defying various obstacles. The party’s leadership thinks they achieved more than targets in these rallies. They think the party’s rank and file had been in a kind of captivity in the last 15 years due to political harassment and attack. The divisional rallies have enabled them take to the streets again after years and they showed their gumption to make these rallies success.
BNP sources said their divisional mass rallies saw huge gatherings. The party’s leaders-activists were united. The party has been bolstered by its organisational capabilities through these programmes. The BNP leadership thinks that the party activists were successful in holding the events peacefully despite instigation from the ruling party.
Amir Khosru Mahmud said, “Our leaders-activists have been sacrificing their lives one after another. Mass people attended the rallies defying all the odds including enforced disappearance, murder and attack. All people have joined the struggle to liberate the country, nothing can be a bigger achievement.”
BNP sources said their divisional mass rallies saw huge gatherings. The party’s leaders and activists were united. The party has been bolstered by its organisational capabilities through these programmes. The BNP leadership thinks that the party activists were successful in holding the events peacefully despite instigation from the ruling party. They could successfully made it clear to the people that BNP is holding a non-violent movement while the ruling party is instigating violence. The BNP sources said they want to continue peaceful movement in the coming days too.
BNP leaders’ assessment is the ruling party’s ultimate target was to foil their divisional rally in Dhaka given the situation created in Naya Paltan area before the rally. Later, over 400 hundred BNP men including the party’s secretary general were arrested to create fear among the rank and file in order to decrease the number of attendees in the programme. But the government was dealt a blow as a huge number of people attended the rally, according to the leadership of BNP and like-minded parties.
This correspondent talked with several leaders of Ganatantra Mancha. They said the most important takeaway from the rally is BNP was successful in drawing huge numbers of people in its rally without taking any help Jamaat-e-Islami or any other political allies. Another aspect is BNP did not fall on the government’s bait. The ruling party’s political propaganda over interdependent relation of BNP and Jamaat has been shattered.
BNP-leaning political analysts think the BNP’s main challenge ahead is enhancing its support among the people. They believe that there has been a global spread of authoritarian rulers in recent times. BNP should also keep these things in mind.
I said in 2014 that Bangladesh’s politics is no more in our own control. External powers take advantage of the extreme antagonism among our political parties.Dilara Choudhury
Analyzing the dynamics of national and regional politics in light of the existing situation, many observers think that Bangladesh is being presented as a 'geopolitical arena' in the global debate on authoritarianism versus democracy. Bangladesh has fallen into the authoritarian regime category in this debate. As the stance of Western countries including the United States and the United Kingdom has become visible in favour of democratic governance, the counter stance of the authoritarians is also slowly emerging. Now the ruling Awami League government will try to get support or blessings from there.
BNP leadership said they might succeed in realising their demand of the election under a neutral government if they can progress with the movement taking ‘authoritarianism and democracy’ into consideration. Otherwise, the movement might fail no matter how much public support the party has and the country might fall into prolonged authoritarianism.
Political analyst and former chairman of government and politics department of Jahangirnagar University Dilara Chowdhury told Prothom Alo, “I said in 2014 that Bangladesh’s politics is no more in our own control. External powers take advantage of extreme antagonism among our political parties. Now the anti-government alliance is gaining more momentum given the public support displayed for BNP. If public support increases further, BNP would get support form from pro-people external forces.”
Some political observers, however, said it remains to be seen as to how much the BNP leadership would able to keep the public support alive and its leaders and activists active.