BNP considers permission to hold rally at Suhrawardy Udyan a ‘trap’

BNP leaders at a rallyFile photo

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) wants to organise its rally in Dhaka on 10 December at Naya Paltan, where the party’s central office is located. The party's curiousity, however, has been sparked off by the government’s proposal for BNP to organise its rally at Suhrawardy Udyan, and by the ruling Awami League announcement to hold the conference of its student wing, the Bangladesh Chhatra League, two days ahead of schedule at the same venue, and assurance to dismantle and remove the stage before the BNP rally.

The leaders and activists of the de facto opposition have been analysing whether the proposal is the government’s generosity or a new “trap”. The party is also taking organisational preparations to make the grand rally a success.

Expressing their suspicion, several central leaders of BNP told Prothom Alo initially the influential leaders of the ruling party and cabinet members were using tougher words saying they would not to allow BNP to organise any rally in Dhaka. Suddenly what has happened that the government is showing such flexibility allowing BNP to hold rally at Suhrawardy Udyan?

The reason the party’s leaders have been mentioning for this is that, as of now BNP has organised eight divisional rallies despite serious hindrances from the ruling party, except in Cumilla. Already a transport strike has been called before the BNP rally in Rajshahi on 3 December. At the same time, BNP’s policymakers have been alleging that new “fictitious cases” are being filed against the party’s leaders and activists there. In this context, AL could be creating any trap for BNP, behind this façade of generosity by bringing the BCL conference two days ahead of schedule.

BNP’s 10 grand rallies at the divisional level will come to an end through the Dhaka rally on 10 December. BNP on 13 November filed a written application to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) authorities seeking permission for the rally. Amid different debates, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Thursday said BNP will get permission to hold rally at Suhrawardy Udyan under certain conditions. The BNP, however, did not apply for Suhrawardy Udyan, said the party sources.

When the government’s proposal to BNP to hold the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan was published in media, several party leaders objected to it saying that the BCL conference will be held there on 8, 9 December. Then how would the BNP construct its stage and organise the rally there?

Following this, AL general secretary and road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader on Sunday said at the direction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the BCL conference will be held on 6 December as BNP was showing excuses, how would they organise their rally on 10 December after BCL’s rally at the venue on 8 December.

BNP’s sources involved with holding the rally said the party standing committee on Monday night discussed the ruling party’s enthusiasm to allow BNP hold the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan. The party leaders think the government is proposing this out of an unknown “fear” or “panic”. There is a political strategy behind this as well.

They said by keeping the rally in an enclosed space like Suhrawardy Udyan, the Awami League wants to deprive BNP of gaining political influence by holding a grand rally with huge number of people in the Naya Paltan area.

The policymakers of the party think Suhrawardy Udyan is no longer an open space like before. The walled space has a huge number of trees and small space for people to sit and the entrances to the Udyan are small. It’s tiring for the leaders and activists to enter and come out through the smaller entrances. Besides, a huge number of law enforcers remain present at the entrances of Suhrawardy Udyan centring BNP’s rallies there. Many party leaders and activists were arrested when they were getting out of the Udyan at the end of the rally in the past.

The BNP policymakers have also been fearing attack of Chhatra League from the Dhaka University area.

Regarding this AL general secretary Obaidul Quader from a party programme in Dinajpur on Monday assured the BNP. He said don’t fear the BCL men. At the orders of Sheikh Hasina, not a single BCL man would go near your rally.

The government said it has decided to give BNP permission to organise the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan as traffic movement will be halted and people will suffer if BNP holds the rally at Naya Paltan.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, BNP standing committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy said, “We don’t think the government has been thinking anything healthy. They do the exact opposite of what they say. So far BNP has held eight rallies. It is the ruling party that has created public suffering by enforcing transport strike in all places except Cumilla. Then why are they even raising the question of public suffering for one day’s rally in Dhaka?”

* The report, originally published in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza