BNP has no plan to call for ousting the government from this rally by occupying or besieging Dhaka city. Their only goal is to hold a large public gathering. But ruling party leaders and ministers are talking in such way that seems BNP will seize Dhaka that day and oust the government. In fact, nothing such will happen.

According to sources concerned, tension ensued over the Dhaka rally following the speeches of several mid-level BNP leaders. On 8 October, BNP Dhaka city north convener Amanullah Aman at a discussion in capital’s Segunbagicha said the country will be run as per instruction of Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman after 10 December.

A day later, BNP's publicity secretary Shaheed Uddin Chowdhury at an event in Lakshmipur said Tarique Rhaman will return to country soon. The next day, BNP chairperson's adviser Zainul Abedin Faruk said the 10 December rally will be like the ‘Atlantic ocean’. Khaleda Zia will attend this rally. Then, ruling party minister and leaders started talking by citing BNP leaders’ speeches from various media outlets.

BNP senior leaders, however, were little embarrassed over these remarks and the party warned those three leaders later.

Responsible BNP leaders said the government and ruling party is out to create a terrifying situation in Dhaka centering the 10 December rally as law enforcers started arresting BNP leaders and activists in the capital.

Besides, Awami League presidium member and agriculture minister Abdur Razzaque said BNP would be under watch on the day of the rally. He told Prothom Alo on Sunday BNP would get a befitting reply if they want to engage in any disruptive activities or violence. The party would receive a bigger blow than the Hefazat-e-Islam men did when they seized Dhaka in 2013, he warned.

BNP standing committee member Iqbal Hasan Mahmud told Prothom Alo on Tuesday night, “We are holding rallies in 10 divisions. A rally will be held in Dhaka like other divisions. Since it is the capital, this really is attracting more attention, nothing else. This is no national rally. We never said we would bring people from all over the country. If the government gets frightened, what will we do?”

According to party sources, BNP will hold a press conference over the matter soon where the party will clarify its stance on various plans taken by the government as published in media.

BNP has organised mass rallies in nine organisational divisions so far, with the first rally being held on Polo Ground in Chattogram on 12 October, followed by Mymensingh, Khulna, Barishal and Rangpur. Rally was organised in Faridpur on 12 November while mass rallies will be held in Sylhet on 19 November, Cumilla on 26 November and Rajshahi on 3 December.

The party held these rallies protesting against the price hike of essentials and fuel oil and death of its leaders and activists as well as demanding release of Khaleda Zia and election under a caretaker government. This two-month long programme in 10 divisions will end with the rally in Dhaka on 10 December.

Speaking to several senior BNP leaders, it was learned that BNP apparently held a showdown through these rallies to create a foundation for the next movement across the country and the party also came to know about the support of the general people and the condition of leaders and activists at grassroots.

BNP leaders said their goal is to go for the second phase of movement after the Dhaka rally. In the meantime, a work plan of time befitting movement will be fixed along with other political parties. An outline of the neutral government will be announced as well as a structure of the national government will also be revealed aimed at repairing the state after the election. According to reliable sources of BNP, an announcement on one-point movement is likely to come from Dhaka rally.

Leaders at the party’s policy making level observed that the government does not want to allow BNP to wage a moment and that is why Awami League has become active to make the 10 December a deadline.

The government has gotten a clear signal from the gathering of people at the BNP’s divisional rallies that people no longer want them. Now they fear the 10 December rally may create a rush of people. Whether this rush of people turns into a mass unrest, and from that fear the ruling party is more active over the 10 December rally as a strategy to trap the BNP.

BNP is yet to get permission to hold the mass rally in Dhaka. The party wants to hold rally in capital’s Naya Paltan. A six-member delegation led by Amanullah Aman met Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner Khandker Golam Faruq on Tuesday. Having emerged from the meeting, Amanullah Aman told the newspersons “The commissioner will inform us after discussing the matter.”

Sources at the government, Awami League and transport sector, the ruling party has started taking various plans and preparations centring the BNP rally. Awami League’s Dhaka district unit will hold a rally in Savar, one of the main entry points to Dhaka on 10 December. Awami League’s Dhaka city south and north units sought permission to hold rally in capital on that day.

Besides, transport sector, Awami League and the government are chalking out their own plans. Law enforcement agencies will also be on alert on that day in addition to controlling the vehicular movement.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, “We have a plan to organise a rally in Dhaka like we did in other divisions. People from Dhaka and its neighbouring districts and cities will join the rally. I think, the government has become frightened and is trying to go in another way and that will not be better for them. If they don’t allow us to hold a peaceful programme, all responsibility will be on the government.”

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna