Movement, not polls

BNP grassroots leaders want clear strategy for street agitation
BNP’s Caretaker Movement

The BNP's grassroots leaders have suggested the top leadership that the party should not take part in any polls under the incumbent government.

They have also recommended finalising the movement strategy to force the government to hold the next general election under a non-party interim government.

They said that the BNP should focus more on strengthening its organisational capacity by quelling all internal feuds before making a final push for its 10-point demand.

The grassroots leaders also stressed the need for programmes based on public interest to involve the people in the anti-government movement.

A total of 2,367 former and incumbent union parishad chairmen made these suggestions in 10 closed-door meetings with senior BNP leaders at the party chairperson's Gulshan office in the capital from February 23 to March 16.

"We tried to encourage our grassroots leaders to get involved in the movement more closely. We feel encouraged after listening to them as all participants suggested not to join any election under the incumbent government," Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, BNP standing committee member, told The Daily Star yesterday.

He said that the union-level leaders suggested gradually gathering momentum for the movement.

Joining the meetings from London virtually, BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman talked with the grassroots leaders. The party's standing committee members were also present.

Grassroots leaders opined that the party should identify the betrayers within so that the anti-government movement does not lose steam. They pledged to play an active role in future.

The union-level leaders recommended intensifying the movement in Dhaka and finalising the movement strategy considering the capital as the epicentre.

Sources said that although the grassroots leaders agreed on waging the movement, most of them could not say what exactly could be the strategy for it.

Many leaders talked about intra-party feud and expressed their grievances.

"Through this process [series of meetings], the former and current elected public representatives were being involved in the movement. They pledged to be on the streets. The party will stage protests even during Ramadan," said Emran Saleh Prince, acting office secretary of the BNP.

Sources said the initiative was taken keeping in mind that the former and present UP chairmen have influence in their respective areas, and that they have good ties with the grassroots people.

"If they lead the anti-government movement at the union level, it will have an impact on the ordinary people and ultimately encourage them to join the movement," said a senior BNP leader.

The party held meetings with the union-level leaders with an aim to engage them in the final phase of the movement to press home their 10-point demand, including national election under a non-party interim government and resignation of the incumbent government, he added.

Among the meeting participants were former UP chairmen elected since 1991 when the BNP was voted to power and Chairperson Khaleda Zia was elected prime minister for the first time.

Sources said that the BNP's top leadership has sent a message to the grassroots that the government must be unseated for a free and fair election or else the party will be in serious trouble.