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BNP plans ‘midterm polls’ movement

The party will use economic issues including price hike

Published : 18 May 2024 10:56 PM | Updated : 19 May 2024 01:47 PM

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is making all-out preparations to launch a movement across the country  demanding ‘midterm elections’.

However, sources in the party hinted that the major opposition party will try to intensify the anti-government movement phase by phase, and will use the term ‘fresh election’ instead of ‘midterm polls’.

As part of  its plan, the BNP which ruled the country for two terms after the fall of the military dictator Ershad,  is holding a series of meetings with its political alliance and like-minded parties.

Party sources claimed that this time, the BNP and its ally will try to raise movement without depending on any foreign countries.

It may finally decide to include ultra radical  Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh in the upcoming movement considering their strong organizational strength.

Some BNP leaders want to use the activists of Jamaat’s student front Islamic Chhatra Shibir at the final stage of the movement to realise their demand for a midterm election. 

Most of the party leaders and activists have been accused of the BNP’s policy of depending on foreign powers in making their anti-government movement successful.

Responding to a question, a BNP leader on condition of anonymity told this correspondent, the party will try to engage mass people in their future movement using the price hikes and other economic issues of the country.

Before starting any large-scale anti-government movement, BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman has instructed reforming the party, especially to fill the vacant posts of the BNP central committee along with district units of the party.

Parties close to the Jamaat, some of which were part of the defunct 20-party alliance have already  suggested including ultra radical  Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh in the upcoming movement. 

However, many influential senior leaders are still opposing  any move to include  Jamaat. In the liaison committee meetings held on May  12, 13, 15, and 16, BNP did not clarify its stance on Jamaat. 

On May 14, a senior Jamaat leader said: "The acting chairman of the BNP has realized that excluding Jamaat was not strategically correct. We will now move forward simultaneously, even if we don't share the same stage."

Talking to Bangladesh Post on Saturday, BNP Standing Committee member Selima Rahman said, “ We were in the movement and we are still in it.”

We did not stop our ongoing one point demand for resignation of the government for a single day. We had to take initiatives to release our hundreds of arrested leaders from jail, she continued.

About the specific time frame of the movement demanding the midterm polls, she said, “ We are in movement, but we shall not disclose our next course of the movement.”

About the future course of the  anti-government movement, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi   told Bangladesh Post that the course of any movement is changed in different times for different reasons.

But we did not stop our movement for a single day. Still, our leaders are being arrested, we are being harassed, even our leaders are being given  jail terms in false cases. These all are only to restrain us from the anti-government movement, the BNP’s spokesperson added.

About the possible time of demanding midterm elections, the senior BNP leader said, “ It’s  totally our party’s internal issue. I shall not share it with you.”

BNP has  planned to hold a special meeting to discuss and review the ongoing anti-government movement involving various political parties.

This meeting will highlight discussions and suggestions from the liaison committee meetings held since May 12.

Sources from the BNP Standing Committee indicate that the party will review discussions and suggestions from 39 political parties, including the Ganatantra Mancha, and 12-party alliances. Some senior leaders may join the standing committee members for this meeting.

When asked about this, standing committee member Abdul Moin Khan said: "The responsibility has been given to the liaison committee. When they inform the standing committee, we will be able to say more."

The liaison committee has been tasked with gathering suggestions and reviews through internal party discussions. Leaders from affiliated parties initially discussed the situation before and after the 12th national parliamentary elections held on January 7.

Several standing committee members believe that Tarique Rahman has reached a principled decision but does not want to disclose it yet. His stance may become clearer in upcoming meetings.

Meanwhile, 12-party alliance leader, Bangladesh LDP Secretary General Shahadat Hossain Selim said they advised the BNP to include Jamaat.

A high-level official revealed that specific proposals have been given to BNP by the Ganatantra Mancha, Gano Forum, and NDM. A Ganatantra Mancha leader said: "BNP has been told that the decision-making process of the movement should be more democratic." Another meeting with the BNP may occur.

Saiful Haque, general secretary of the Revolutionary Workers Party and a Ganatantra Mancha leader, said: "We discussed the situation before and after January 7, including the dummy election and subsequent events. We need more reviews to build future movements, overcoming past weaknesses."

Saiful also mentioned that further discussions are necessary for reorganizing the movement, which will help in presenting future plans.

Several high-level BNP officials said that the strategy for the coming days would focus on coordinating with existing parties, keeping Jamaat involved, and preventing the ruling party from exploiting the situation. They hinted at addressing the ongoing economic crisis in future programmes but gave no clear indication about targeting mid-term elections.

A top BNP leader, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "There has been no discussion about mid-term elections. It will come up during political discussions naturally."

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said: "We discussed alliance politics and national issues in our meeting. The programme has not been decided yet. We are still reviewing and exchanging views."

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