BNP leaders are divided over the party’s next course of action ahead of the upcoming national election of the country, party sources said.
Top leaders are now facing some ‘crucial issues’ like waging movement for polls under a non-party poll-time government, BNP’s participation in the next election and cases filed against BNP leaders, including party chairperson Khaleda Zia and senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, they said.
BNP insiders said a group of party leaders want to go for tough agitation programmes soon to realise their demands and resist any move to hold election without Khaleda and Tarique.
On the other hand, another section wants to participate in the polls anyway.
Talking to the daily sun, some BNP leaders said the party should follow a wait-and-see policy till the last moment and participate in the next parliamentary polls in any situation to keep their party strength intact.
Asked whether there is any difference of opinion about the party’s next strategy related to election and movement, BNP standing committee member Mahbubur Rahman claimed that there is no difference of opinion among the party leadership over the issues.
Khaleda Zia at a recent programme in the capital asked her party leaders and activists to take preparations for movement and election. “You have to go ahead by taking preparations for movement and also for the election. We will be successful,” she said.
BNP sources said the party leaders are speaking about a movement but BNP actually does not have enough organisational capacity to wage a strong movement.
“That’s why a number of BNP leaders think that the party should participate in the election in any way,” said a central leader of BNP.
Addressing a recent programme, Khaleda Zia said, "BNP will go to the polls as it's a pro-election party. Our party can't be kept out of the election race this time even if they want it. We'll surely join the election but it has to be held under a neutral and non-party government.”
Talking to the daily sun, BNP vice-chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu said, “If the government doesn’t hold a free, fair and acceptable election under neutral government, we will go for movement. We are getting ready for movement and election simultaneously.”
“There is no difference of opinion in the party over holding the next national election under a non-party neutral government,” he added.
Political tension is running high in the embattled BNP as the ruling Awami League leaders, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, have reiterated that the 11th parliament election will be held under the party in power as per the constitution.
Sheikh Hasina, also president of the AL, has already directed her party leaders to take preparations for the election and seek vote for ‘boat’, election symbol of the ruling party.
Some BNP leaders think that the government has headache to ensure the participation of BNP in the next election and they also fear that the party’s registration with the Election Commission may be cancelled if it boycotts the election again.
On the other hand, another group of central leaders of BNP think that the party can create pressure on the government through some ‘peaceful’ programmes with huge public participation as they believe waging any tough agitation may affect the reputation of the party ahead of the polls, insiders said.
“It will depend on the government whether BNP will pay its attention to movement or election. If government plays a game over the election, BNP will have no alternative to waging a movement,” Mahbubur Rahman said.
A top leader of the party said the ruling party is likely to reject BNP’s formula for poll-time government. “If BNP waits for negotiations, it will be just wasting time. BNP should go for tougher agitation to resist any election like January 5, 2014.”
Talking to daily sun, several leaders claimed that they believe that if the next general election is held in a free and fair manner, BNP has a strong possibility of winning the election.
“If BNP steps into the trap of the movement and launches a violent movement, the party will lose its image and will be branded by the ruling party as a violent political party. It will be a boomerang for BNP ahead of the next national polls,” said a central leader of BNP.
Another senior BNP leader said, “Some leaders persuaded our chairperson to take to the streets soon, but she has finally changed her mind considering the reality.”
“If our party launches any movement right now, it will only invite serious repressive acts from the government’s side which will weaken the party and destroy organisational strength. This will make our leaders and activists upset ahead of the next national polls,” he added.
Sources inside BNP said party leaders and activists across the country are afraid of its future as they apprehend that Khaleda and his elder son Tarique Rahman and many other top leaders may face convictions in different cases.
BNP, which boycotted the 2014 general election, are seemingly taking preparation for participating in the next parliamentary polls. Panic grips BNP leaders and activists, as many top leaders may be disqualified from joining the polls, if they get convictions.