BNP will carry on its movement against the ‘one-sided’ schedule announced by the election commission. Sources in the party have said that after the 48-hour hartal (general strike) announced for Sunday and Monday in protest of the schedule, fresh programmes will be taken up. BNP will remain active in the field, even if it means changing the type of programmes.

Speaking to leaders at different levels in the party, it was learnt that the BNP leaders at the policymaking level were planning on how to strengthen the movement in the coming days.

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The leaders feel that the blockade progamme is becoming somewhat lax due to the police’s arrest drive and the aggression of the ruling party on the streets. Even so, they had to call for a hartal to protest against the announcement of the schedule.  

During a virtual press briefing yesterday, Thursday, BNP’s senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said, “We announced a hartal programme to demand the resignation of this government, establishment of an election time non-partisan caretaker government and to protest against the one-sided schedule announced by the election commission.”

Sources say that BNP’s objective is to carry out the hartal more effectively and to keep up its continuity in the days to come. The party policymakers want to continue with the movement up until the election. This has become a challenge for BNP and the rest of the opposition.

On one side the ruling Awami League has begun its elation campaign. And on the other side the police are backing the ruling party in suppressing the opposition. As a result, whenever the opposition takes to the streets, there is a three-way conflict.

A top leader of Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal, on condition of anonymity, has compared this to a war-like situation. Speaking to Prothom Alo about the police’s role during the blockade , he said, “The police are raiding homes of the ruling party people at night and standing on the streets with firearms in the daytime. It is like a war-time situation.”

Certain political analysts who are keeping an eye on the movement of the opposition say that the joint movement of the political parties hasn’t quite taken off as yet. The like-minded parties haven’t been able to generate much strength in the field in the demand for the government’s resignation. Jamaat-e-Islami has declared a similar programme and is in the fray albeit separately, but nothing tangible has emerged. There is no visible coordination between the two parties.

When asked about the matter, a Jamaat-e-Islami central executive council leader told Prothom Alo, on condition of anonymity, that Jamaat is not alone in this movement. BNP will be the main beneficiary of the movement. Jamaat is in a supporting role. So why will it take on the main role?

Speaking to several BNP leaders involved in the movement, it was learnt that after the two-day hartal, there are considerations of laying siege to the election commission. But some of the allies have discouraged such a programme for the time being, particularly with the major leaders of BNP, including the party’s secretary general, behind bars at the moment. It has been suggested to take up programmes in accordance to the situation, even taking a break if necessary.

After the police disrupted the BNP grand rally at Naya Paltan in the capital on 28 October, BNP and like-minded alliances observed a dawn-to-dusk hartal on 29 October. Then on 31 October, in give phases, there was 11 days of blockade over road, rail and waterways all over the country. And this confrontational situation between the two major political camps of the country, the election commission on Wednesday announced the election schedule. It was said that the election would be held on 7 January next year. BNP, in response, announced the new hartal programme.

Speaking to Prothom Alo on Thursday night, leader of Ganatantra Mancha and Gono Sanghati Andolan chief coordinator, Zonayed Saki, said a one-sided election, one-sided schedule is on no way acceptable. The people are fighting for their voting rights and democracy. This struggle will continue till victory is attained.

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