Awami League will not allow BNP to rebound 

Flags of Awami League and BNP

Awami League is determined to prevent the BNP from making a comeback before the upcoming polls. Policy makers within the ruling party believe that if BNP manages to regain momentum after the events of Saturday, 28 October, there may be a significant disruption in the next parliamentary elections. Consequently, both law enforcement agencies and Awami League will apply considerable pressure on BNP. 

This strategy has revealed by certain policy-making sources within Awami League. According to informed sources, the apprehending of BNP leaders, ranging from the highest ranks to the grassroots, will continue until the election schedule is announced. 

Meanwhile, in response to BNP's three-day blockade, Awami League will organise a 'peace rally' across the country on those three days and will maintain vigilance at all party offices, from the central level to the rural level.

Additionally, Awami League leaders and members will remain on alert to prevent BNP leaders and members from successfully implementing the hartal-blockade. The prime minister will attend large gatherings in Dhaka and other locations as and when convenient. 

The arrests of top BNP leaders began following the clashes and the death of a policeman during the grand rally on 28 October. Central Awami League leaders were observed in high spirits throughout the day yesterday. They believe that the BNP will no longer be able to demonstrate power on the streets.

Now, it remains to be seen how foreign powers, on whom the BNP had relied, will respond. A sense of relief is also noticeable among middle and lower-ranking leaders at the Awami League central office on Bangabandhu Avenue and the party president's political office in Dhanmondi. 

Efforts to curtail Tarique's clout  

Sources at the policy-making level of the Awami League reveal that the party are not strongly adverse towards the BNP leaders who are being arrested. Their primary focus is on Tarique Rahman, and they intend to convey to BNP leaders that they have no political future if they follow Tarique Rahman's lead.

Moreover, BNP followers will be demorasied if top leaders are arrested and others go into hiding out of fear of arrest. This approach aims to weaken Tarique Rahman's authority within the BNP. 

Almost all Awami League leaders concur that BNP's leaders and workers are under the influence of the acting chairman of the party, Tarique Rahman.

Tarique Rahman remains steadfast in his refusal to participate in the elections and, instead, encourages activists to engage in movements to overthrow the government. As a result, there is an ongoing effort to diminish Tarique's control. 

There are differences of opinion in the top leadership of BNP. By arresting the top leaders, the government would try to distance them from Tarique Rahman and want to make a section of BNP leaders take part in the election.

A policymaking level leader of AL on condition of anonymity told Prothom Alo that when the incarcerated BNP leaders will be freed would depend on two factors. Firstly, they would be released quickly if they sever ties with Tarique Rahman. The matter might also depend on various other factors at home and abroad.

The AL leader said if some leaders of BNP can be forced into the decision of joining the polls, some allies of BNP might also join the polls. In such a scenario, getting commitment from the Islamist parties that are yet to assure the government of joining polls would be easier.

AL wants to dispel apprehensions

AL leaders think that apprehensions were in the air about what was going to happen centering BNP’s rally on 28 October. AL leaders and activists were also seen worried. AL wants to reinvigorate its ranks by driving out BNP from the streets.

Sources said, the apprehensions among people and AL activists were a roadblock in creation of an election-oriented environment. Such an environment can be created if the BNP’s movement can be pushed aside. AL targets ensuring good turnout in the next general election and a good environment is needed for that.

Arresting top BNP leaders, neutralising the activists and creating a rift in the party might clear the air for the ruling quarter. The voters might also get assured by that. AL candidates would also be able to focus more on electoral activities rather than fighting street movement.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has already commenced the election trail by inaugurating different development projects. She will inaugurate the Agargaon-Motijheel part of metro rail on 4 November. AL will hold a big rally on the day. The PM will hold a rally in Cox’s Bazar while inaugurating railway service in the district and address divisional rally in Khulna.

AL presidium member and agriculture minister Abdur Razzaque told Prothom Alo that the best alternative for the BNP will be taking part in the election adhering to the constitution. Waging movement in the streets can bring the party nothing.

He said BNP could not do any harm to the government in the past by resorting to continuous blockades and arson and the party won’t succeed to do anything this time round either.