With the aim to return to "positive politics", the BNP holds its long-awaited sixth triennial national council today, more than six years after the previous one.
The council, one of the biggest events of the party, will be held at the capital's Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB). The theme of this council is "We Will Free Democracy" and the slogan is "Corruption and misrule will surely end -- Bangladesh is for democracy."
The BNP, which earned a bad name at home and abroad for their violent movements in the past two years, wants to make a turnaround through this council, party insiders and political observers believe.
The movements -- first to thwart the January 5, 2014 election boycotted by the BNP and its allies, and then to unseat the government on the polls' first anniversary last year -- were marked by widespread violence including mindless arson attacks on public transports that claimed scores of lives and crippled many more.
"We now want to focus on positive politics and this council will mark the beginning of that," said BNP spokesperson Asaduzzaman Ripon.
"We will present the nation a new and positive BNP through the council," he told The Daily Star last night.
Khaleda Zia and her elder son Tarique Rahman have already been elected unopposed to the posts of chairperson and senior vice chairman. Their election will be endorsed by the councillors today.
The only major "challenge" the BNP chief faces is choosing a right person for the post of secretary general, according to party insiders. A number of top leaders are vying for the vital position.
Some BNP leaders said she is looking for a leader with a clean image and may choose Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who is now the acting secretary general of the party, for the post.
However, Khaleda is most likely to not announce the name at the council. The same will happen in case of the party's national standing and executive committees where a number of changes are expected.
"Like at the previous council [in December 2009], the councillors this time too will vest the power in the chairperson to pick leaders for all the posts, including that of the secretary general," said Ripon.
The full-fledged committees would be announced two or three weeks later, sources said.
A few dozen amendments to the BNP charter are likely to be proposed at the council for approval.
Over 3,100 councillors, 8,000 delegates and around 1,000 guests -- including political leaders and eminent citizens -- are expected to attend the council.
'A PICNIC, NOT A COUNCIL'
A number of councillors have described the BNP council as "mere eyewash" and "a picnic".
"All the major decisions have already been made. Getting us to say yes to those decisions is all that will be done at the council," said a councillor, wishing anonymity.
"We will say hi and hello to our party colleagues from different areas of the country, eat together and raise our hands to support whatever proposed during the council ... It's like a get-together or a picnic," he added.
Shafiqul Islam Mona, general secretary of Khulna district BNP, thinks the council should be aimed at turning the party around from its current sorry state by electing dedicated and tested leaders.
"But the tradition is that we have to vest all the power in the party chief for selecting leaders in all posts and committees.
"We cannot practice our rights to elect the party leaders in true sense," said Mona, who too is a councillor.
ALL SET FOR COUNCIL
Visiting the IEB yesterday afternoon, these correspondents found the venue was all set for hosting the council. Decked out with flags and streamers, festoons and large banners, the entire area wore a festive look.
Many of the posters and banners highlighted Tarique Rahman, describing him as "a national hero" and "a statesman". With arrest warrants against him in a number of corruption cases, Tarique has been staying in London for about eight years.
Most of the councillors and delegates had already arrived in the capital. Some of them were found talking among themselves about potential changes in different committees.
Khaleda Zia has already finalised her speech for the inaugural session of the council, according to BNP insiders.
In the speech, she will focus on the existing political situation in the country, the "misrule" of the government and what the BNP will do if voted to power.
Khaleda will also call upon the BNP leaders and activists to unite in strengthening the party, which ended up with no representation in parliament for the first time since 1991 after boycotting the 2014 elections.
Her speech will include directives for the BNP men to refrain from violence and practice "positive politics", several BNP leaders told this newspaper last night.
Tarique too will address the council via videoconferencing from London, they said.
"This council will be very vital for the party as it has been passing the most critical time since its birth in 1978. Repeated mistakes in the last three to four years have put the party at stake," said Mahbub Alam Piaru, president of pro-BNP Jubo Dal's Sonadanga upazila chapter in Khulna.
"We will have to start the journey afresh with right leaders in the right posts to avoid repetition of past mistakes," he added.