BNP's Hint at Polls Participation: AL now finalising strategy

Flag of Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party

“We will firm up our formula for the electoral alliance soon.” 

AL presidium member Kazi Zafarullah 

At Sunday's rally, the BNP gave a clear message to the Awami League and the international community that it would take part in the national election.

The party placed 12 goals at the rally and its leaders said those were sort of electoral pledges.

AL leaders said they got the BNP's signal that it would take part in the polls under any circumstances, even though it is saying it would not run with Khaleda Zia behind bars.

Wishing anonymity, an AL central committee member told The Daily Star, “Now we will make all-out efforts to prepare for the election. We could not make many decisions and were waiting to see what the BNP would do regarding taking part in the polls. Now we can go ahead and make concrete decisions.”

Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury, who closely observes the BNP, told The Daily Star that the BNP at the rally wanted to send messages to three quarters – to its own leaders and activists, to the ruling party, and to the international community.

He said BNP leaders and activists were asked to prepare for a movement and the election. The ruling party was told that it would not have a walkover like it had in the January 5, 2014, polls. The international community was told how the BNP would run the country if voted to power.

At the rally, the BNP also made a seven-point demand, including unconditional release of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia. It said the demands would be the base for forging a greater unity among political parties.

The party's 12 goals include establishing good governance, rule of law, checks and balances, modernising the armed forces, freeing the Anti-Corruption Commission of political influence and making it effective.

The demands include dissolution of parliament ahead of the polls, resignation of the government, and formation of a non-party polls-time administration after talks with all political parties.

Meanwhile, AL allies have been asking it how many parliamentary seats it would give to its partners to run for. The AL has not been responding to the requests from its “ideological” and “electoral” partners, according to AL insiders.

Earlier, the AL had decided that if the BNP boycotted the polls, the ruling party would run under the 14-party alliance banner. And, if the BNP joined the election slated for December, it would run under the banner of grand alliance, which includes Jatiya Party of HM Ershad and the 14-party combine.

Now, the AL wants to finalise how many seats it would give to its allies.

Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad had a meeting with AL President Sheikh Hasina at latter's parliament office on September 9 and discussed the possible alliance, said sources.

AL presidium member Kazi Zafarullah told The Daily Star, “We are holding meetings with several political parties. As the Election Commission will declare schedule next month and we only have one month's time. We will finalise our formula for the electoral alliance soon.”     

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told The Daily Star, “We have placed our goals and said that if we got elected, we will achieve those goals.

“We have announced some programmes and we will announce our next course of action later.”

He refused to elaborate further.

Other BNP leaders, however, said the party would have various programmes, like rallies, demonstrations, and human chains in October to mount pressure on the government to hold a free and fair election under a non-partisan interim government.

Meanwhile, the ruling party has started its week-long campaign across the country yesterday. The decision to go for the campaign was made at an AL secretary-level meeting held hours after the BNP rally.

While inaugurating the campaign in Gulshan-2 yesterday, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader said, “Awami League is not countering the BNP rather, it is holding its own programmes in an innocent manner.”

"We are far from violence and enmity. If the communal force BNP along with other communal forces try to incite violence, then we will deter them with people by our side. This is our goal," he said.


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