Signs of rare tolerance bring relief
The BNP is now concentrating on “positive politics” with nonviolent programmes like rallies, discussions, and human chains to compel the government to initiate talks with all political parties for an immediate national election.
Insiders say the party also opts for maintaining a distance with the Jamaat-e-Islami, a key component in their 20-party alliance, mainly to cut off the BNP's dependence on it.
A BNP central leader says the move aims at improving the public image of his party as Jamaat opposed Bangladesh's birth during the 1971 Liberation War.
Ruling party leaders, on the other hand, have said the government will give more space to the BNP for political activities, provided those are democratic.
Besides, they have found a “positive sign of tolerance” in politics as their party's archrival have not come up with any destructive programmes on the second anniversary of 2013 January 5 national polls.
The AL leaders, however, ruled out any possibility of talks with the BNP yesterday, saying the situation does not demand it.
On Tuesday, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, at a rally in front of her party's central office at Nayapaltan in the capital, urged the government to initiate talks with all political parties to find a solution to the “ongoing political crisis and restore democracy” in the country.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, BNP leaders said the public response to their “peaceful” rally that day had made it confident of going ahead with “positive politics” for reaching their goal.
Some of them said their party men had been demoralised since their movement early last year failed to realise their demand for an interim national election. Violence killed over 100 people, mostly innocents, across the country during the time.
However, on December 30 last year, Khaleda held a meeting with her senior colleagues and advisers where they decided to go for “positive politics” this year, a meeting participant told The Daily Star later.
Another BNP leader said they were busy in reorganising the party and its different front organisations. He also said his party is now completely against programmes that could become violent.
Yesterday, at a meeting with BNP's central municipality election monitoring team, party acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said government cooperation in holding Tuesday's “peaceful” rally in the capital has encouraged his party to go ahead with “positive politics”.
“As the government didn't create any obstacle to holding the huge rally, we think that the government will continue not to disrupt opposition programmes in future,” Emran Saleh Prince, a BNP assistant publicity secretary, said.
Although it welcomes the BNP for not announcing any “violent programme” on Tuesday, the AL yesterday turned down any possibility of holding talks with it.
"The BNP showed a positive sign by changing its previous position involving confrontation. There will be no political confrontation in the country, if the party [BNP] does politics following democratic norms,” AL senior leader Suranjit Sengupta said.
Talking to The Daily Star, he said the BNP would get space for their political activities in exchange for its cooperation.
Other AL leaders echoed him.
AL presidium member Nooh-Ul-Alam Lenin said, "Of course, the BNP showed a positive sign and it's a good signal for politics."
On holding talks with the BNP, Lenin said, “I don't see any possibility of talks right now. But, there might be talks with the BNP on holding the next national election in 2019 in a free and fair manner.”
Talking to reporters after an AL meeting at the party president's Dhanmondi office, joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif yesterday also rejected BNP's call for a dialogue. Instead, he urged Khaleda to apologise to the nation for “killing” innocent people in the name of movement last year.
The meeting also decided to hold a rally, marking Bangabandhu's homecoming, on January 11 at Suhrawardy Udyan instead of on January 10 due to Biswa Ijtema's Akheri Munajat.