Though BNP senior leaders remained united for a long time in absence of its chairperson Khaleda Zia, a crack now has apparently developed among them over its leadership and party overhauling, worrying its already demoralised grassroots.
Party insiders said some BNP standing committee members want a change in the party leadership, including the post of party secretary general, through holding a council to stage a comeback in politics after the drubbing in the 11th parliamentary election.
But most party policymakers are unwilling to hold the council keeping Khaleda Zia in jail. They think their party should now focus on finding ways to have their chairperson released from jail alongside reorganising the party grassroots.
BNP senior leaders are also divided over the issue of maintaining their unity with Dr Kamal Hossain-led Jatiya Oikyafront and keeping Jamaat in the 20-Party Alliance.
Under the circumstances, the party grassroots leaders think, a new charismatic and well-reputed face like Dr Zubaida Rahman should now take the helm of the party for removing the misunderstanding among the senior leaders and revitalising the dispirited party leaders and activists in obscene of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and acting chairman Tarique Rahman.
As per the BNP's constitution, the party will have to hold its national council after every three years. But the party repeatedly violated such provision in holding the councils in the past.
BNP's last council was held on March 19, 2016 where Khaleda Zia was reelected party chairperson while Tarique Rahman and Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir were made senior vice chairman and secretary general respectively.
A BNP standing committee member, wishing anonymity, said BNP standing committee members Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain and Moudud Ahmed along with some vice chairmen took a position against party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and they want a change in the post of party secretary general, and some other ones through a council.
He, however, said other standing committee members are still backing Fakhrul.
The BNP leader said the BNP group, led by Mosharraf and Moudud, also wants BNP to focus on its own organisation now and prepare the party for waging a strong mass movement against the government instead of spending time on strengthening Oikyafront.
"But Mirza Fakhrul and other senior leaders think their party should work for strengthening the party and forging a greater unity by making Oikyafront stronger further," the BNP leader said.
Besides, he said, as Mosharraf and Moudud are unwilling to be there in Oikyafront's steering committee, their party is going to replace them with BNP standing committee members Gayeshwar Chandra Roy and Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan.
The rift among the BNP senior leaders got exposed for the first time on January 18 last as Moudud and Mosharraf at a discussion suggested a change in the party leadership through holding a council.
Meanwhile, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Thursday alleged that many plots are now on to weaken BNP and split it.
Contacted, BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said they talked about party overhauling through a council, but they do not have any intra-party conflict. "I don't want to say anything more about it."
Asked about Fakhrul's comment over the plots to split BNP, he said their secretary general indicated that the government, not any BNP leader, is conspiring to divide BNP.
Asked when their council may be held, Moudud declined to make any comment on it.
Another BNP standing committee member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said their party is going to take steps for holding the council as soon as possible in a bid to reorganise it.
"I think young and new leaders should be brought in the frontline of the party leadership through the council to strengthen the party," he said.
Mahbub, however, was unwilling to make any comment over the conflict among the party senior leaders and the conspiracy against the party.
Mohammadpur unit BNP president Haji Mohammad Yusuf said it is usual to create misunderstanding among the senior leaders in absence of their chairperson and acting chairman. "I think Dr Zubaida Rahman should now take the charge of the party to keep BNP united and revitalise its demoralised party grassroots. She's a very capable and well-educated person to deal with the current situation as I saw her during the 1/11 political changeover," he added.
Echoing Yusuf's view, ex-Dhaka city unit BNP office secretary Shamsul Alam said Dr Zubaida will be the best suitable option for their party to strengthen it now and take it forward.