Sunday, 1 October, 2023

Sit-in Lays Bare Weakness

BNP unlikely to go for tougher movement before Sept

To hold more rallies, sit-ins across country for now

Major opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is unlikely to go for any tougher movement before September to realise their one-point demand for resignation of the present government as it has not yet gained enough strength to launch the agitation right now.

After the youth and labourers’ rallies held across the country, it seemed that the party is strong enough to intensify its movement in August through harsher programmes.

However, its weakness was laid bare through a sit-in at the key entry points of Dhaka city on July 29, which forced the party to revise its movement strategy.

Accordingly, the party retreated from its earlier plan to hold nonstop programmes and did not announce any fresh programme from Monday’s rally.

The sit-in programme was marred by violence as the BNP men clashed with police at different points, leaving many of its leaders and activists, including Standing Committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, injured and many arrested.

Asked whether they have revised their movement strategy, BNP Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan told the Daily Sun, “Let’s see what happens. You’ll know about it in the right time.”

Party’s Vice-Chairman Barkatullah Bulu said movement programmes will be announced soon. “Our Standing Committee will decide the next course of action in its next meeting,” he said.

BNP insiders said the party high command had expected a huge turnout of its leaders and activists in Saturday’s sit-ins but the programme could not yield expected success for lack of necessary preparations and coordination among the party leaders. Talking to the Daily Sun, some grassroots leaders said though their central leaders in the July 28 rally asked the party men to stay in the capital, they did not get any message from the party. “We had no preparations to stay in the capital and join Dhaka-centric programmes,” Lalon, a Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal leader of Sirajganj, said.

At the same time, many of the party’s central leaders were in dark about the sit-in as they were not well informed while most of the senior leaders did not attend the programme, the sources added.

“Actually, the sit-in programme was a test case for our party to go for Dhaka-centric harsher programmes. The programme didn’t bring expected success. That’s why the party high command has decided to take more preparations before going for harsher programmes and is revising the movement strategy accordingly,” a central leader of the party told the Daily Sun, wishing not to be named.

He also said the party is likely to go for harsher programmes like Dhaka siege in September after taking enough preparations to compel the government to resign and hand over power to a caretaker government.

BNP sources said there are differences of opinion among the party top leaders about the movement strategy as a group of leaders thinks that the party should take more preparations and carry out normal programmes for the time being before going for the harsher movement.

On the other hand, another group thinks the party’s movement has reached a certain stage and it is time to go for harsher programmes, saying if there is any break, the movement may lose tempo.

The party sources further said a meeting of the BNP Standing Committee is scheduled to be held on August 5 to evaluate their previous programmes and decide the next course of action.

As per the revised plan, BNP will hold some more rallies and sit-ins across the country, including in Dhaka city, to realise their one-point demand.

At the same time, the party will try to include more political parties in their simultaneous movement, the party sources said.

BNP held public rallies in metropolitan cities and district towns across the country, including Dhaka, on Monday to protest against the attacks on the party men during Saturday’s sit-ins.

Dhaka South and North city units jointly organised the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital.

Addressing the rally, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir claimed that the government was bowled out by the opposition’s July 28 and 29 programmes. “This time you (government) won’t be spared. Carrying out repression, firing gunshots and arrest will be of no use. There’s still time. Stop repression and oppression,” he said.

Mentioning that their movement has progressed much, he said their victory is imminent.

The BNP leader said national unity has been formed over their one-point demand for resignation of this government to pave the way for holding the next general election under a polls-time neutral administration after reconstitution of the Election Commission.

However, BNP did not announce any new programme from the rally.

BNP leaders, including Mirza Abbas, Abdul Moyeen Khan, Nazrul Islam Khan, Barkatullah Bulu, Dr AZM Zahid Hossain, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed, Amanullah Aman and Abul Khair Bhuiyan, also spoke at the rally.

Mirza Abbas asked the government to release their party men before they bring them out of jail breaking prisons.

Apart from BNP, other like-minded opposition parties and alliances also held rallies simultaneously on the same issue.