Soul-searching in BNP for reasons
After the rather humiliating defeat in Monday's parliamentary election, the leadership of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is now soul searching to find out the reasons behind it.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia convened an emergency meeting of party policy makers in her Gulshan office yesterday evening to assess the poll results and to discuss the party's next course of action.
Before the meeting started at 7:15pm, a group of angry leaders and activists waiting outside the office threateningly advanced towards Shimul Biswas, a personal aide to the chairperson, as he arrived there, prompting him to run for shelter into the office.
The incident took place as the meeting was going on inside the office, which was not interrupted by it, and was still going on at the time filing this report at 10:30pm.
Party standing committee members Saifur Rahman, Chowdhury Tanbir Ahmed Siddiqui, Dr R A Ghani, Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, M Shamsul Islam, and Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain were also in the meeting.
The party office yesterday was rather quiet with only a few leaders and activists milling around there wearing despondent looks.
Party insiders said although misrule and corruption of BNP-led four-party alliance government had an impact on the poll results, it was the inclusion of war criminals in the alliance that worked as the most detrimental factor.
"Voters could not accept our alliance with anti-liberation Jamaat," said a senior leader of BNP, adding that BNP developed deep ties with Jamaat and other radical Islamist parties, which discouraged voters, especially the young generation of first time voters, to vote for four-party alliance.
He said the campaign against Jamaat and war criminals ahead of the election also affected the outcome of the election.
Jamaat, which won only two seats, is also assessing its near ouster from the parliament.
The two parties however have yet to hold an official meeting or discussion on the election results.
"There were widespread publicity against anti-liberation forces and there were rousing voices for trials of war criminals. Amid such a situation, a coalition with Jamaat was a wrong policy decision," said a standing committee member of BNP yesterday.
Some BNP leaders and activists were not even shy to express their anger at the decision of having an electoral alliance with Jamaat in the party office, as the poll results started coming in since late Monday night.
The standing committee member termed the result as 'unbelievable' saying, "We sensed a defeat, but not such a humiliating one."
The advisers to Khaleda, who were closely involved in forming BNP's election strategy and gave her suggestions from time to time, also misled the party chief about the possible outcome of the election, many party leaders alleged.
They said the chairperson's advisers are also responsible for the party's defeat by such a large margin.
"The advisers who are former bureaucrats and journalists, misled the chairperson about possible outcomes of the poll," an unhappy BNP leader told The Daily Star, seeking anonymity.
He said the advisers conducted several surveys on possible poll results before the election and assured Khaleda Zia that the party was sure to bag 200 seats.
Sources close to Khaleda said she was initially against BNP's participation in the ninth parliamentary election, but she changed her mind being persuaded by her advisers.