BNP aiming for endgame before polls schedule
Opposition BNP plans to take its movement to a climax before the announcement of the election schedule, party insiders say.
Formal electioneering will kick off after the announcement of the polls schedule. So, BNP wants to achieve its goal before that, as the party fears that the government may try to imprison its leaders and activists through quick disposal of the cases against them in the coming months.
Secondly, the party also worries that the government may entice some BNP leaders into joining the election to make it look inclusive.
"The formal electioneering will start soon after the announcement of the election schedule. Therefore, it will be difficult for our movement to gain momentum at that time. So, before that, we will have to force the government to accept our demand for holding the election under a nonparty interim government," said a BNP standing committee member, wishing to remain unnamed.
The Election Commission has already hinted that the polls schedule will be unveiled in November, and the general election will be held in early January.
Keeping these in mind, BNP has announced a series of protest programmes, including road marches, starting today. These programmes will continue till October 3.
Party insiders say that through these programmes, they seek to build momentum before launching the final phase of their one-point movement to unseat the government and force it to install an interim administration.
Meanwhile, BNP leaders say, the cases filed against the opposition leaders and activists are being disposed of quickly. They fear some of their seniors may be convicted before the national election so they cannot participate in the polls.
"The government plans to keep the opposition leaders and workers in prisons so that they can't take part in the movement for a neutral government."
"The government plans to keep the opposition leaders and workers in prisons so that they can't take part in the movement for a neutral government," BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a rally recently.
Another senior leader said the government may lure some opposition leaders into the election.
Referring to former BNP lawmaker Ukil Abdus Sattar, the BNP leader said the government will surely make such an attempt in the upcoming election too.
"We must wage the movement on such a scale that the Election Commission keeps from announcing the polls schedule. If we can pull that off, the door will open for negotiations to hold the polls under a caretaker government," he said.
Ukil Sattar was elected in the 2018 election from BNP. He resigned from parliament on December 11 last year, and then successfully contested the election as an independent candidate with backing from the Awami League.
Another senior BNP leader said that this time the political situation is different as there is an immense pressure on the government from the international community for holding the election in a free, fair and inclusive manner. Also, people are angry over the rising prices of essentials.
"The intensity and frequency of the ongoing movement will increase in the coming days. One thing is for sure, this time there will be no lopsided election and we will do our best to ensure that," said Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of BNP.
The party boycotted the January 2014 election over the demand for a caretaker government, and unsuccessfully tried to resist the polls. It joined the 2018 election, which was marked by widespread allegations that voting took place the night before the election day in some places. Since then, the demand for polls under an apolitical interim administration came to the fore again.
Ahead of the 12th parliamentary election, the opposition party launched its one-point movement on July 12, and has since been holding various programmes, including sit-ins at the entry points of Dhaka on July 29.