The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has started girding up for a dual battle—launching its election campaign and waging a movement to force the government to hold the next general election under a neutral administration.
Building on the success in the recently-held Comilla City Corporation polls, the party has started strengthening its organisational activities to rejuvenate its rank and file and prepare for the next city and parliamentary polls, according to UNB.
Party senior leaders said since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Awami League leaders ‘initiated campaigns’ for the next general election, BNP also worked out a plan to take preparation simultaneously for the election and a movement to force the government to hold polls under a neutral administration.
As part of the plan, they said they would complete the party overhauling process and other groundwork, including incorporating reformists in the party, placing the party’s Vision-2030 and the supportive-government formula and formation of Dhaka south and north city unit committees, by May next to start a strong polls campaign from mid-June.
The next general election will be held in January 2019 and Rajshahi, Sylhet, Khulna, Barisal and Gazipur city corporations will go to polls early next year.
A leader close to the BNP chairperson said party senior leaders and pro-BNP intellectuals were persuading Khaleda Zia to take to the streets and hold rallies in different districts to start the election campaign and revamp the party at the grassroots.
He, however, said, Khaleda is unlikely to hold any street rally anytime soon as she is facing some health complications. “The BNP chief may hit the streets in mid-June. By the time, she has a plan to go to the UK for treatment.”
The BNP leader said she already directed party top leaders to start taking all-out preparations, including collecting information of possible MP candidates and giving training to party leaders and activists to prepare them for working as polling agents and facing obstacles at the polling stations with tactics, for the next city and parliamentary polls.
At a recent programme, Khaleda asked her party leaders and activists to get ready for the next general election. "Being happy over Comilla city Mayor Monirul Haque Sakku's victory is not enough. Instead, we need to prepare our party so that we can overcome the election hurdles through a strong fight."
Contacted, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said they would surely join the next election, but it has to be held in a credible and neutral manner.
“We’ve already started completing groundwork for the election. Our party’s research unit is working to work out plans and strategies for it with the suggestions of the experts of relevant fields.”
Fakhrul said their election manifesto is also being prepared in light of ‘Vision-2030’ which Khaleda will soon present before the nation.
He said they were holding councils of their different units, overhauling the party, forming new committees of their associate bodies alongside revitalising the rank and file across the country through senior leader’s visit.
Asked when Khaleda will take to the streets, he said after the formation of the new committees of the Dhaka city unit and other major units she would start her campaign. “Our party overhauling process will be completed soon.”
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched her election campaign using state facilities, but the government is not allowing them even to hold a public rally.
“We’re not sitting idle as we’re working out different strategies to overcome the current problems and prepare the party for election. We’re taking preparation both for the election and a decisive movement to force the government to hold the next polls under a non-party administration,” he said.
BNP vice chairman Abdullah Al Noman said their party had more or less preparation for joining the national election and other city polls at any time. “We’ve used some tactics in Comilla polls and got success. We’re now devising newer strategies for the next polls.”
A BNP leader, wishing anonymity, said their party was planning to launch a united platform with all the anti-government political parties to force it to hold the next polls under a non-party administration.