BNP to change course of movement from grand rally

Map of Dhaka and flag of BNP
Prothom Alo illustration

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) could set an ultimatum for the government to accept the party's demand of a parliamentary election to be held under a non-partisan government. Several top level sources from the party say this time limit could be short. If the government does not accept their demand within that time, BNP and other parties that have been waging simultaneous anti-government movement will go for continuous programmes to oust the government.

Speaking to several BNP leaders at different levels, it has been learned that right now, their focus is solely on the grand rally to be held on 27 July. The policymakers of the party are putting on multilateral organisational efforts to ensure maximum crowd in the grand rally. As part of this, members of party committees at all levels have been directed to be present at the grand rally on 27 July. Leaders and activists from distant districts (from Dhaka) have been suggested to reach Dhaka in advance.

However, the central leaders of the party are concerned about holding a peaceful rally following a statement from ruling Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader.

While addressing a meeting of Awami League, road and bridges minister Obaidul Quader accused BNP of ‘purchasing and storing arms’ in border areas.

The central leadership of BNP thinks that a top leader of the ruling party made this allegation as part of their efforts to create a confrontational situation on the streets.

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Speaking about this to Prothom Alo on Tuesday night, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged, “His (Obaidul Quader) statement has made it clear that they have started a new conspiracy. They are creating the risk of leading our peaceful programmes towards conflict. Whereas whatever is happening surrounding arms, it is being done by the government and the ruling party.”

Several sources in the policymaking level of BNP say considering the overall situation, they have several plans to make the grand rally a success.

One of the plans is that if there is no obstruction from the ruling party, the party will hold the rally peacefully and will declare a continuous programme within a short time. And if the ruling party obstructs, the party leaders and activists will hold rallies at different points of the city on that very day.

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Sources say the de facto opposition party is likely to set an ultimatum for the government to accept their demand of election under a non-party government after observing the attitude of the police and administration on the day of grand rally. However, the BNP is trying its best to ensure a massive crowd at the grand rally. The party wants to further intensify the pressure on the government through this. BNP also wants to show the international community that even the people do not want this government anymore. And if the government does something in excess, the international community will also see that.

The top leadership of the BNP thinks the upcoming programmes will be risky at one end and will be positive in achieving their goal on the other. They think people’s participation in their recent programmes has increased. It will further increase in the coming days.

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Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, which has been outside the simultaneous movement, does not have any programme on 27 July. However, the party has declared a three-day programmes separately. The party will bring out protest processions in all divisional towns on 28 July and in all district towns on 30 July.

The party also announced to hold a rally in Dhaka on 1 August. On Tuesday, a party delegation submit an application to Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) seeking permission to hold the rally. They want to hold the rally at the north gate of the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque. The party is still maintaining a distance from the programmes of BNP.

Speaking to Prothom Alo on Tuesday, Jamaat-e-Islami’s nayeb-e-amir (party chief) Mohammad Taher said, “We support BNP’s grand rally in principle.”

The BNP has been holding different programmes, including protest rallies, divisional rallies and road marches across the country over the last one year.

The Ganatantra Mancha, 12-party alliance, Jatiyatabadi Samomana Jot, LDP, Gono Forum and some other parties will hold grand rallies on 27 July. The AB party will also stage demonstrations at the Bijay-71 premises on the day of BNP’s grand rally.

Besides, Islami Andolan Bangladesh, the party of Charmonai Pir, has also declared to hold a rally in Dhaka on 27 July.

Earlier on Sunday, police obstructed the party’s second top leader Mufti Faizul Karim from addressing a grassroots representative council of Islami Andolan Bangladesh in Khulna.

The party will hold the rally in Dhaka in protest of this incident and the indecent behaviour of the police and demanding the dissolution of the election commission, introduction of proportional electoral system and an election under a national government after dissolving the incumbent parliament.

The rally of Islami Andolan in addition to the rallies of BNP and 35 other parties on the same day will create extra pressure on the government, said the relevant persons.

Gazi Ataur Rahman, senior joint secretary general of Islami Andolan, told Prothom Alo on Tuesday, “The police is procrastinating over giving permission to hold the rally. They have asked us to change the date. However, we are determined to hold the rally on 27 July.”

*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu