Focus on unity, loyalty, polls

BNP high-ups meet to take stock
Senior BNP leaders wait outside the old Dhaka central jail yesterday morning to visit Khaleda. Photo: Shaheen Mollah

With Khaleda Zia in jail, top BNP leaders have three things on their mind -- unity, loyalty and preparation for the next election later this year.

The party held its first high-level meeting last night after its Chairperson Khaleda Zia landed in jail in a corruption case on Thursday.

The meeting discussed, among other issues, how the party can remain united and continue a peaceful movement for Khaleda's release, said a leader who attended the meeting.

Some 60 leaders -- standing committee members, vice-chairmen, Khaleda's advisers, joint secretary generals and other senior leaders – took part in the meeting at Khaleda's Gulshan office in the capital.

Standing Committee Member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain chaired the meeting that began around 6:00pm. 

Tarique Rahman, elder son of Khaleda and now acting chairman of the party, spoke at the meeting over phone from London, where he is living in exile since 2008. He has been sentenced to 10 years in jail in the same case.

Tarique spoke for about eight minutes, giving various directives on party matters.

“His speech has inspired us and we are feeling stronger as a party,” BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told The Daily Star.

The meeting decided to give befitting replies to the “negative propaganda” by the government and the ruling Awami League about Khaleda and Tarique. 

Also, the party will sit with diplomats, journalists, different political parties, professional bodies and intellectuals separately in the coming days to brief them about the overall situation.

Top party leaders will speak with grassroots leaders by phone or visit them to boost their morale, the leader added, asking not to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media. 

The BNP will hold a meeting of the 20-party alliance at Khaleda's Gulshan office at 5:00pm today.

Earlier in the day, the BNP announced a series of programmes -- human chains tomorrow, sit-ins on Tuesday and hunger strikes from 9:00am to 5:00pm on Thursday across the country, demanding unconditional release of Khaleda.

At the meeting, leaders decided to travel to various districts to make these programmes a success.

Standing Committee Member Moudud Ahmed, who visited Khaleda in the jail yesterday, briefed the leaders about his talks with the party chief.

“Have patience and courage. Stay together and observe programmes in a way that it becomes clear to everyone that we are united,” Moudud told the meeting, quoting Khaleda.

The party decided to take legal steps so Khaleda's personal physician can visit her inside the jail.

Also, the party will wage a full-scale legal battle to free Khaleda from jail, party leaders said. 

The BNP, which formed government thrice since 1991, is now out of parliament, as it did not take part in the 2014 elections.   


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