Rivals ready to face off on street | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 15, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 15, 2010

Rivals ready to face off on street

Opposition threatens agitation soon; ruling party preparing to resist

Ruling Awami League and main opposition BNP are at the threshold of a face off on the streets in the coming days, as both parties already announced street demonstrations, with AL threatening to resist the opposition.
AL insiders said the party will come down heavy on the opposition if the latter tries to obstruct the upcoming trials of war criminals in the name of anti-government movements.
BNP insiders said they will launch a movement protesting the government's failure to resolve power, gas and water supply crises, price hike of essentials, and deterioration of law and order, among others.
BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain recently told journalists, "This government will be ousted through a people's movement, for its anti-people and anti-nation activities."
Bitterly criticising the government for deterioration of law and order, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on August 24 at an iftar party said her party will announce street demonstrations soon, to protect the country and its people from the "existing intolerable situation".
AL Presidium Member Obaidul Quader, however, said BNP neither has the courage nor the strength to launch a movement right now, as the entire party is facing "protocol and chain of command problems".
"So I can say they are not organised or ready for street level movements. They don't even have any issue for a movement. Their only headache is Awami League," he observed.
Saying that AL has a long tradition of launching and facing movements, he added, if the opposition embarks on an anti-government movement, it will be faced politically.
Brushing aside Khaleda Zia's recent statement that her party wants to help the government, the AL policymaker urged her to help democracy instead.
"If you want to help democracy, then join the parliament in the next session, and strengthen it. And then the country, its people, and politics will be benefited," Quader said adding that the number of opposition lawmakers is not an issue, rather their participation in the parliament is important.
The AL leader said it will not be positive for democracy if the opposition keeps maintaining its aggressive posture.
BNP Standing Committee Member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said his party is planning to organise long marches, grand rallies, human-chains and other democratic demonstrations in a peaceful manner.
"If the government or the ruling party tries to obstruct those programmes then clashes will be imminent," said the former army chief, adding that the government must allow the opposition its democratic right to demonstrations.
He however said politics of conflict is harmful for democratic political atmosphere, and both AL and BNP should shun destructive politics.
He said the government should be tolerant of the opposition, since the opposition is speaking for the people. "The government should sit with the opposition to listen to their concerns. If those are logical then it should address those."
Prof AK Azad Chowdhury, a former Dhaka University vice-chancellor also a member of the AL Advisory Council, said the ruling party could chalk out street level propaganda programmes to let the people know about its development activities, at the same time the opposition could lawfully criticise the government on the streets for its failures.
"But, if the opposition launches a movement to topple the government, that will be highly unwanted and unexpected. And that will eventually lead to clashes," he said.
Referring to The Daily Star-Nielsen August 29 survey, Dr Azad said the people want the opposition to speak in the parliament instead of the streets.

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