Having scored a sweeping victory in the four city corporation elections, the opposition alliance is now set to rethink its strategy to force the government into accepting the non-party caretaker government system for the parliamentary polls.
Talking to The Daily Star on Sunday, a number of policymakers indicated that they might give less priority to street agitations, like hartals or occupying street programmes, before the month of Ramadan.
The BNP-led alliance had earlier decided to intensify street agitations before Ramadan, which begins in the second week of July.
The BNP leaders now say that the alliance may carry out a strong campaign enlisting the support of Islamic organisations and professional bodies to build public opinion against the government and bring other Islamic parties into the fold.
At a secretary general-level meeting of the alliance yesterday it was decided that a BNP delegation would go to Hathazari in Chittagong to meet Hefajat-e Islami chief Allama Shah Ahmed Shafi and seek his blessings.
About the agitation campaign, senior BNP leader Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said, “We are now looking for an intellectual-based campaign in the coming days by engaging Islamic scholars and leaders of different professional bodies and other organisations to drum up public support for restoration of the caretaker government system.”
Mahbub, a member of BNP national standing committee, said there might be some large rallies in different parts of the country. BNP chairperson and senior leaders would address those rallies to create opinion in favour of the caretaker government system.
He also said there was not much time left for tougher street agitations as Ramadan starts from next month, the rainy season will follow, and then it would be time for election preparations.
Mahbub, also a former army chief, said, “We are not going to enforce further hartals in the coming days unless the government forces us to do so.”
About inclusion of other Islamic parties in the alliance, a senior BNP leader said they had an aim to include Bangladesh Khalefat Majlish and Khelafat Islami in the alliance.
Another senior BNP leader said the two parties have a strong link to Hefajat-e Islam, an Islamic outfit that proved its ability in the city polls in effectively playing the religion card against ruling Awami League-backed mayoral candidates to ensure their defeat.
This suggests that the opposition alliance will bank more on the Islamic parties to wage a hectic campaign in the coming days and use people’s religious sentiments against the government to gain political mileage before and during the next parliamentary polls.
Abul Kashim Kashimi, international affairs secretary of Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish, told The Daily Star that the BNP had already asked them to join the 18-party alliance.
“Our Shura committee, the highest policymaking body of the party, will sit soon to decide on the matter,” he added.
Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan is another entity that was invited to join the BNP-led alliance, said an alliance source.
GRAND RALLY IN DHAKA
The opposition alliance yesterday decided to hold a grand rally in the capital at the end of this month or early next month from where alliance chief Khaleda Zia will announce its next course of action.
The decision was taken at the secretary general-level meeting of the alliance at the BNP’s Naya Paltan central office in the city.
The opposition combine also decided to stage demonstrations across the country on June 22 to press home its demands including restoration of the caretaker government system.
“Date for the grand rally will be finalised after the BNP chairperson [now in Singapore for treatment] returns home. The meeting primarily decided to hold the rally on June 30 or July 1,” secretary general of a component of the 18-party told The Daily Star, wishing anonymity.
At a press conference after yesterday’s meeting, BNP acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the alliance would stage demonstrations at district and upazila headquarters all over the country on June 22.