Now AL plans to flaunt strength

Countrywide rallies in Nov; electioneering to start thru national council in Dec
AL committee

As the recent BNP rallies drew huge crowds in different cities, the Awami League is now preparing to hold rallies and other programmes across the country from next month apparently to show its strength.

In November, the ruling party will hold councils in eight districts followed by rallies in the towns, said AL insiders.

Apart from this, the government is likely to open 100 new bridges to traffic in the first two weeks of November. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina may remotely inaugurate three of those bridges in rural areas and address rallies there.

Currently, the party is holding councils at district, upazila and union levels. Rallies are also being held in those places.

The AL's youth front Jubo League on Saturday announced it will hold a grand rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital on November 11 to mark its 50th anniversary.

The rally will be an answer to BNP's "anarchy", said Jubo League Chairman Sheikh Fazle Shams Parash.

The AL also plans to organise a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in mid-December with a "gathering that will astonish all", sources said.

In the third week of December, the party's triennial national council will be held at the same venue to pick the next leadership.

"Through our national council, we will begin our election campaign, and the organisational activities will continue until the polls," AL presidium member Kazi Zafarullah told The Daily Star.

The specifics of the event and campaign will be decided by the AL Central Working Committee on November 28 at the Gono Bhaban.

About BNP's divisional rallies, AL Joint General Secretary Bahauddin Nasim said, "The BNP is trying to create a confrontational situation and the Awami League will not step into that trap. We will hold rallies across the country with participation of leaders, activists and supporters to show that the Awami League is still popular."

In recent weeks, the BNP held huge rallies in Chattogram, Mymensingh and Khulna and is scheduled to organise similar events in seven other cities to protest the power crisis, soaring prices of essentials and the killing of its leaders and activists.

Despite transport strikes and fear of attacks by AL activists, the rallies in Chattogram, Mymensingh and Khulna saw the presence of thousands of supporters.

The enthusiasm in BNP supporters has worried the AL a little, said insiders, adding that they believed the BNP rallies might have shown the general public BNP's popularity, which in itself is a sign of the ruling AL's weakness.

Besides, BNP leaders repeatedly said the country would be run under the leadership of Khaleda Zia after December 10 when they would hold a rally in the capital.

These remarks have already made the AL leaders uncomfortable, because they do not know the specific plans of the opposition party regarding the rally.

However, the government is now contemplating either not to give permission for the rally or to take measures to prevent the BNP from gathering the expected number of participants.

Addressing the council of Narayanganj AL, Obaidul Quader, AL general secretary, yesterday said they would face the BNP on the streets and the final face-off will take place in December.

AL presidium member Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya on Friday said the BNP would not be allowed to hold political programmes anywhere in the country in December.