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BNP to change the movement strategy in December

by tbhad

UNB, Dhaka

The BNP is planning to change the course of the ongoing movement in early December, moving away from harsher programmes like hartals and blockades to demonstrations and sit-ins.

The change is being mulled to keep up public support and prepare to show its strengths before the 12th parliamentary polls billed for January 7, if there is no positive development by the time.

Talking to UNB, BNP senior leaders said they will come up with alternative programmes like demonstrations, sit-ins and processions instead of hartals and blockades after the deadline for submitting nomination papers in a bid to create a scope for party leaders to openly take to the streets stepping out of their hideouts.

They said their first phase of movement will end in November and then they will initiate the second round of movement with a new strategy to foil the election and create public opinion to boycott the ‘lopsided’ election, if the government and election commission move ahead with their current election plan without any understanding with the opposition parties.

A BNP standing committee member, wishing anonymity said, they will continue the movement in a different way as the situation may change positively with continued pressure from the Western world. “If there is no development by mid-December, we’ll then change our strategy to disrupt the polls and may again enforce hartal or blockade.”

Despite an extremely adverse situation amid mass arrests and a crackdown on the party leaders and workers, he said their first round of movement is successful as there is no visible enthusiasm among people for the election after the announcement of the polls schedule.

The BNP leader said they are now looking for alternative effective programmes to strike and blockade as they feel people may get annoyed if the party continues a similar programme for a long time without giving people any relief.

He said their recent standing committee meeting reviewed their ongoing programmes and elaborately discussed the next course of action. “Most of our standing committee members opined continuing the blockade until November 30, the last date for the submission of the nomination papers as per the current polls schedule announced by the Election Commission. After that, we’ll declare programmes like demonstrations, rallies, processions and sit-ins.”

Some party policymakers proposed to lay a siege to offices of the Election Commission in Dhaka and Returning Officers at the district level on November 30 instead of enforcing a hartal or blockade, if the Commission does not change the polls schedule.

The BNP leader said they also talked to other opposition parties who have long been carrying out a simultaneous movement with them and they gave a similar opinion. “They suggested taking programmes like laying siege to various important institutions, including the Election Commission, the Secretariat or observing sit-ins there as well as holding public rallies. They opined that the Election Commission’s role will be put under question if the opposition parties are not allowed to hold their democratic programmes.”

The leaders of BNP and its alliance partners think after the end of the nomination papers submission deadline, there will be a tussle between the rebel candidates of the ruling party and the candidates of small parties in the seats that will be left by Awami League for its partners and those are joining the polls based on an understanding and promises.

“If such a situation emerges, we’ll then come up with a time-befitting strategy to make our political gains,” the BNP leader said.

BNP and like-minded alliances and opposition parties observed nationwide blockades for 13 days in six phases and hartals for three days in two spells since October 29, following the incidents of the clashes and violence at BNP’s grand rally in the capital’s Nayapaltan on October 28. The sixth phase of the blockade ended at 6 am Friday while another spell of 48-hour blockade will be enforced at 6am on Sunday.

Contacted, BNP Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said the blockade will continue throughout the next week. “After that, a new type of program will be worked out in accordance with the desires of the people.”

He said their party policymakers are discussing the possible next course of action to mobilise more public support to foil the ‘unilateral’ national election. “We still did not finalise the programmes.”

BNP Standing Committee member Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan said people at the grassroots level are carrying out the current movement spontaneously against a despotic government which has been trying to subdue the opposition leaders through a serious crackdown with the help of police and administration.

‘We are taking the systematic movement forward with full patience. This government will be forced to concede to the strong morale of the people and to a justified movement. People have accepted the BNP from their hearts and they want to get rid of misrule.”

Another BNP Standing Committee member Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku said though over a week has elapsed since the announcement of the election schedule, there is still no visible election fervour among people. “It has clearly manifested that no one is interested in the election. So, our movement is successful and people are with us. People won’t participate in any lopsided election.”

He also said the movement itself will determine its next course with the passage of time based on people’s desires and new political development.

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