If a government is able to keep the capital city under its control, the possibility for its survival remains high even in the face of vigorous agitations outside the capital by opposition parties. History tells us that the fall of the capital brings an end to a regime, opening the door for the agitators to take over the capital city.
The BNP-led alliance had miserably failed in its agitation and in its move to resist the January 5 parliamentary election as it could not wage any strong movement in the capital. Even its much hyped march for democracy through which they had planned to paralyse the capital had also failed. The government had used brute force to thwart the opposition men from taking to the street on that day. BNP chief Khaleda Zia, who was able to come out from her home, could not join her party's march for democracy. And the control over the capital had given the AL-led government much comfort to go ahead with its agenda for holding the one-sided January 5 general election.
The BNP has now targeted the capital in its planned fresh agitation programmes. It wants to wage a vigorous movement in the capital to make the government unable to function. They believe that if they can do so, it will force the government to open a dialogue with the BNP and to go for an early general election under a non-partisan caretaker government. In line with the strategy, the BNP has formed a new convening committee of the party's city unit. The party has also planned to hold some rallies in the adjacent districts of the capital to inspire BNP men to march to the capital when it is needed.
The organisational weakness of the party is acute. For this, many BNP leaders are also not optimistic about the success of their upcoming movement. For the same reason, the government policymakers are not seriously taking the BNP's threat to wage agitation in the coming days. Yet some ministers and AL senior leaders have kept issuing notes of warning against the BNP that the government would take stern action if the opposition men attempt to create unrest in the name of agitation. The Prime Minister has already refused to hold dialogue with the BNP to resolve the political standoff. It is certain that her government would make all efforts to thwart any BNP-led agitation in the capital. The law enforcement agencies have already started taking preparations to foil the movement. If the BNP-led alliance is able to counter the government's force violence may erupt.
The AL had also taken the confrontational path in 2006 when they had waged agitations against the BNP-led government. The AL-led alliance was agitating against Justice KM Hasan who was supposed to become the chief adviser of the caretaker government. On September 18, 2006, AL chief Sheikh Hasina at a rally in the capital called upon the people to come to the capital from all over the country on the day Justice Hasan was supposed to assume office as the chief of the next caretaker government.
"Come to Dhaka, with whatever you can in your hands, on the day the present government [BNP-led government] will step down and KM Hasan will assume office without realising our demands. We will see how Hasan-led caretaker government continue functioning," said Hasina. She also urged her party men to come to the capital with oars, logs, and sticks. Her party men have followed her directives. The capital turned into a battle field at the end of October 2006 after the BNP's tenure came to an end. Violence had erupted elsewhere in the country. The AL finally succeeded in its mission. Justice Hasan refused to assume the office of the chief adviser of the caretaker government. At that time, the AL policymakers who had chalked out the agitation plans had thought little about people's sufferings.
Now the AL-led government is not paying any heed to the BNP's demand, leaving BNP with no alternative, but to force the government to hear them by waging agitation. And the target is the capital city. And again, the people will be made victim to the power struggle between the two archrivals AL and BNP. Is another nightmare coming for the city dwellers?
The writer is Senior Reporter, The Daily Star.