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Grassroots keep the movement going

BNP leaders admit movement yet to gear up in capital

Rashed Ahmed Mitul

Bangladesh Nationalist Party which is leading the current agitations for a polls-time non-party government largely depends on its grassroots activists to carry on the protests as it could not yet build up an effective movement in the capital.
A member of BNP standing committee admitted that movement in the capital had not geared up yet but the party’s district units were carrying out ‘tremendous tasks’ during the ongoing blockade to take the movement to a ‘decisive stage’.
Talking to New Age on Monday, BNP chairperson’s advisory council member Ahmed Azam Khan claimed that the current movement was under the control of the BNP-led opposition alliance in all districts and upazilas.
He said leaders and activists of BNP could not take to the streets in their large numbers in the capital because of heavy deployment of police in Dhaka city and ‘they shoot demonstrators on sight’.
Azam Khan, however, said the situation would change when leaders and activists would take to the streets in the capital ‘defying police firing’.
He said the ‘mass movement’ in the outlying areas would influence the capital and force the government to ‘quit’.
The BNP-led alliance has not been able to build up an effective street movement in the capital during political strikes and blockades in last three years or so. At the final stage of the movement, senior leaders of BNP and its different wings were not seen on the streets in Dhaka during a series of 60-hour and 84-hour strikes in October and November last and during the ongoing road-rail-waterway blockade since the third week of November.
The leaders sought to attribute the reason to ‘police atrocities’ while some others said they were hiding because of the cases filed against them.
They also referred to the siege of the BNP central office at Naya Paltan by law enforcers during hartals and blockades.
Many top leaders of BNP and its front organisations have been implicated in different cases and dozens of them have been arrested and detained.
According to the party insiders, Dhaka city BNP and the party’s
different wings, particularly its student wing Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal and youth wing Juba Dal could not play any significant role in the agitations in the capital during strikes and blockades.
It was learnt that BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia was dissatisfied with the performance of senior leaders of the party and its wings during the current movement.
The media reported after the lackluster performance of BNP in Dhaka city during hartals in October-November that the party high command had issued show cause notices to some leaders who wielded considerable influence in politics in Dhaka city, including standing committee member Mirza Abbas and city BNP convener Sadeque Hossain Khoka.
The BNP, however, termed the reports ‘baseless’.
In view of the situation, various strategies were adopted to intensify the movement in the capital but none worked, the party sources said.
Responsibilities were given to senior leaders in different areas of the capital to lead the pickets during hartals and blocakdes. 
The leaders who were given the responsibilities included standing
committee members Hannan Shah, Mirza Abbas, Goyeshwar Chandra Roy, Rafiqul Islam Mia, city BNP convener Sadeque Hossain Khoka, BNP joint secretary general  Amanullah Aman and Juba Dal president Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal.
Some of them were arrested in November while some others were implicated in different cases. Those implicated in cases went into hiding to avoid arrest, the party sources said.

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