The next few days may see a turning point in politics with some major events relating to the upcoming parliamentary election taking place.
It begins with tomorrow's Jatiya Oikyafront rally in the capital from where senior leaders of the alliance, as they have planned, will make a clarion call to the grassroots to prepare for both election and agitation.
Another significant development is likely on Wednesday as the Awami League-led 14-party combine will sit with the Oikyafront for a second round of talks on some contentious issues over the polls.
The AL policymakers are positively considering the Oikyafront's letter sent to the ruling party yesterday expressing willingness to hold discussions again, insiders said.
The Oikyafront, which is comprised of BNP and several other parties, sat with the AL-led alliance earlier on Thursday.
In another development, keeping in mind a request from the Oikyafront, the Election Commission yesterday refrained from announcing the polls schedule.
The EC will now announce the election schedule on November 8, said Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury after an EC meeting last night.
The Oikyafront on Saturday wrote to the EC requesting deferral of the schedule announcement until the dialogue between the ruling and the opposition parties ends.
"If the second round of discussion between the Awami League-led alliance and the Oikyafront goes well, the EC may be requested to delay the announcement of the schedule by a few more days," a senior AL leader told The Daily Star on condition of anonymity.
A number of senior leaders of the Oikyafront say they now want to reach a solution to the “current political stalemate” by negotiating with the ruling party.
In the second round of talks, they may focus on the demand for the release of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, who is in jail since February 8 upon being sentenced in a corruption case, and dissolution of parliament before the election, sources said.
The Oikyafront may not strongly oppose the election-time government led by Hasina if its other demands are met. In that case, it may ask the prime minister to include at least four of its senior leaders in her cabinet as technocrat ministers, the sources added.
It may also place an outline of the election-time government within the purview of the current constitutional provisions.
A draft of the outline is now being prepared and some senior leaders of the alliance yesterday held a meeting with some constitution experts in this regard, sources said.
A senor AL leader said they will not go beyond the constitution but are likely to accept some demands of the Oikyafront.
Talking to this newspaper yesterday, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, “We want a solution and that's why we want to hold talks again. We want a free and fair election and our issue is how this can be ensured. Solution can be found out if the government holds talks in a sincere manner.”
Echoing his view, Abdul Awal Mintoo, BNP's vice chairman, said, “We want to settle the political crisis through talks.”
“If talks fail,” he added, “crisis will deepen and then the solution may come through movement or election.”
During a press conference at his secretariat office yesterday, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader said, “Ice has started melting. When we sit for discussion, many problems get resolved.”
He added that granting bail to Khaleda is the jurisdiction of court. But if the BNP wants Khaleda's release on parole for her treatment, the party can discuss the matter with the prime minister.
“The door remains open for discussions,” said Quader, also road transport and bridges minister.
Later, the AL leader told reporters that another dialogue between 14-party alliance and Jatiya Oikyafront will be held on Wednesday.
“The talks will take place at the prime minister's official residence Gono Bhaban at 11:00am on November 7,” he said after a meeting of the 14-party combine at the Gono Bhaban.
Earlier in the morning, Dr Kamal Hossain, on behalf of the Oikyafront, sent a letter to Hasina urging the second round of talks with her.
He wrote that a limited-scale discussion involving experts from both sides is necessary for analysing the constitutional and legal aspects of the seven-point demand of the Oikyafront.
In another development, Hasina has invited Islami Oikyajote to the Gono Bhaban to discuss the upcoming national election. The dialogue will be held at 2:00pm tomorrow, sources said.
Formed on October 13, the Oikyafront held two rallies in Sylhet and Chittagong cities seeking people's support to its seven-point demand and 11-point goal.
The 11-point goal includes ensuring checks and balances, decentralisation of administration, freeing MPs from the stringent restrictions imposed on them under article 70 of the constitution, formation of a constitutional commission to make appointments to all constitutional and other important posts and full independence of the judiciary.
Its demands include holding the next parliamentary election under a nonpartisan government, dissolution of parliament before the polls and reforming the Election Commission.
After Thursday's talks with Sheikh Hasina, the alliance on Friday announced that it will hold a public rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital on Tuesday (tomorrow).
Jamiruddin Sircar, BNP's standing committee member, said, “Agitations and election preparations will go on simultaneously. We will deliver some key messages from the rally.”
The Oikyafront leaders have planned to urge the grassroots to start campaigning in their areas, sources said.
The senior leaders of the alliance think that after the rally the political situation will change. And their announcement will boost the morale of the grassroots and mount pressure on the government as well.