Saifur's men working to win hearts of party rank and file
Saifur-led faction of the BNP is now working to woo the central executive committee members and former lawmakers to establish control over the party's rank and file.
It has yet to gain enough support from the front organisations and district units though 10 days have passed since the standing committee appointed former finance minister M Saifur Rahman as acting chairman and Major (retd) Hafiz Uddin Ahmed acting secretary general, said insiders.
Moreover, the attack on Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman on November 7 and recent statements by some district committees rejecting the Saifur-Hafiz group have left the pro-reforms leaders even more worried, they added.
A top leader of Bhola district BNP yesterday told The Daily Star, "We are loyal to Khaleda Zia and we believe the party must be run on her dictates."
Requesting not to be named, he however said they are in an embarrassing situation as they can neither accept Maj (retd) Hafiz as the acting secretary general nor can discard him straightaway since he too is from Bhola.
Realising the gravity of the situation, Saifur-led group has opened discussion with leaders at different levels to bridge the gap.
Speaking at a briefing at his Banani residence yesterday, Maj (retd) Hafiz said they are working to unite former lawmakers and members of the central executive committee, comprised of president and secretaries of district units, among others. Senior leaders are with them in what he said were reunification efforts.
Blaming both BNP and Awami League for criminalisation of politics, he said former home ministers of the two previous governments are in jail and many of the senior leaders stand accused of involvement in militancy and terrorism.
He said they want to free politics of muscle power and influence of black money. He urged the leaders and workers to unite so that BNP can bounce back and win the next election.
Replying to a query, Hafiz said, "The standing committee has appointed me as the acting secretary general and I will leave the post only if I'm asked by the committee."
He added that they are ready to accept any decision Khaleda Zia should make once she is freed.
Meanwhile, pro-Khaleda leaders are busy devising strategy for the legal fight against the Election Commission's (EC) decision to invite the rival faction for the dialogue on electoral reforms.
They will sit today to finalise the plan and then might go to a court within a day or two.
"Most of the district committee leaders and former lawmakers have already expressed solidarity with us. Now we are concentrating on the legal battle against the Election Commission's decision," a close aide to Khandaker Delwar Hossain, secretary general appointed by Khaleda Zia, told The Daily Star last night.
Seeking anonymity, he claimed that leaders and workers of the district chapters and front organisations keep rallying behind them though many of their top leaders have been put to flight.
Different wings especially Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal and Mahila Dal are unflinchingly loyal to the detained chairperson.
Jubo Dal General Secretary Moazzem Hossain Alal has been playing a key role in marshalling grassroots level leaders in favour of Delwar faction. But like many others he too has been on the run for the last couple of days as a case has been filed against him for the attack on Mahbubur Rahman.
Former lawmakers of the immediate past ruling party, on the other hand, seem deeply split over the issue of leadership. One hundred and six of them have congratulated Saifur Rahman and Maj (retd) Hafiz for their appointment as acting chairperson and acting secretary general on October 29 while in a joint statement issued immediately afterwards 122 ex-lawmakers were said to have thrown their weight Delwar faction.
The latest statement came from 47 former lawmakers Thursday, demanding immediate release of Hannan Shah, who was arrested in an overnight swoop.