No need for hired leadership
A section of BNP leaders yesterday slammed the party's leadership for contesting the 2018 parliamentary election under the banner of Jatiya Oikyafront and said leadership should not be hired for the next polls in 2023.
They said whatever the party does this time -- whether it stages an anti-government movement or contests the election -- it must do it under the leadership of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and acting chairman Tarique Rahman.
But before that, the party must firmly decide that it will never take part in any election under the ruling Awami League.
This view was communicated by the party's joint secretary generals, organising secretaries and assistant secretaries to their top leadership during a meeting at the party chairperson's Gulshan office yesterday.
It was the second of three meetings to decide BNP strategy ahead of the general election, meeting sources told The Daily Star last night. A total of 95 leaders were invited to the meeting and Tarique Rahman, now in London, chaired it virtually.
The meeting continued for around eight hours starting at 4:00pm.
The leaders said party men should brave all risks and take to the street to topple the government before the polls.
At the meeting, BNP Special Affairs Secretary Asaduzzaman Ripon said leadership was hired in the last parliamentary election and the decision to participate in the polls under the Jatiya Oikyafront was wrong, said the sources.
He said Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman were the symbols of nationalist forces in the country. So the party should move forward only under their leadership.
Ripon said the BNP has no leadership crisis now. "If we can topple the government through movement, Khaleda Zia will be permanently released from jail and Tarique Rahman will be able to return to the country," a BNP leader, who attended the meeting, quoted Ripon as saying.
"We want to return to power through movement under the leadership of Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman. So we don't need to hire any leadership," he also quoted Ripon as saying.
The Jatiya Oikyafront is an alliance of the BNP, Dr Kamal Hossain-led Jatiya Oikya Prokriya, ASM Abdur Rob's Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, and Mahmudur Rahman Manna's Nagorik Oikya.
The Oikyafront was formed on October 13, 2018 with the demand of a national election under a neutral government after dissolution of parliament, and release of Khaleda Zia from jail.
The alliance suffered a massive defeat in the election held on December 30, 2018. Many, however, say the polls were not fair.
BNP'S Climate Change Affairs Assistant Secretary Mustafizur Rahman Babul said the party should be reorganised as early as possible for waging movement against the government.
"If we can take to the street risking our lives then our followers will get courage and common people will also join our movement," meeting sources quoted him as saying.
Babul also said the party should consider sacking leaders who did not join movements in the past and got detached from other leaders and activists.
In 2018, the party held its last executive committee meeting at Le Meridien hotel just four days before Khaleda landed in jail. Since then, the party had been holding meetings with its vice chairmen, organising secretaries and other members separately.
No executive committee meeting has been held since. The BNP will hold meetings with senior joint secretaries general, joint secretaries general, organising secretaries and assistant organising secretaries today. On Thursday, the party will hold a meeting with the leaders of the central committee and the BNP's associated bodies, said party sources.
Some 400 leaders were invited to attend the meetings and were encouraged to express their views on launching a movement and joining the next parliamentary election.
The series of meetings is the first meeting of this scale since Khaleda had landed in jail on February 8, 2018. It has also been the biggest meeting since Tarique Rahman became the acting chairman of the party.
Khaleda Zia is currently out of jail on bail while Tarique Rahman, who is facing several cases, is hiding in London.