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BNP grass roots for movement, not talks

Rashed Ahmed Mitul

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party will continue with its movement demanding the cancellation of the January 5 parliamentary elections amidst differences of opinion within the party about opening a fresh dialogue with the new government.
‘Central leaders are under a tremendous pressure from district leaders to carry forward the movement. They are against stepping into a trap in the name of dialogues,’ a central BNP leader told New Age.
He said that party leaders and activists had geared themselves up seeing almost no voter turnout in the ‘farcical’ elections. Although a new strategy for the movement after the elections has not been taken, leaders and activists were earlier instructed to continue with the blockade till January 24, the leader said.
The BNP-led opposition alliance started enforcing the blockade of road, railway and waterways on January 1 for an indefinite period demanding the cancellation of the elections and the holding of a free, fair and inclusive election under a non-party government.
The BNP’s senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, the eldest son of the BNP’s chairperson Khaleda Zia, at a news conference in a hotel in London hours after the general elections on Sunday said that he did not find any logic in holding a discussion with an ‘illegal’ government.
Tarique instructed BNP leaders and activists to carry forward the movement braving all adversaries until the goal was achieved. Khaleda in her statements post polls also emphasised the need for reaching a consensus for free, fair,  peaceful, and inclusive elections under a non-party government after the cancellation of the January 5 polls.
The BNP’s vice-chairman Selima Rahman at a news conference before her arrest on Tuesday urged the government to hold discussions and reach a consensus ‘to restore normalcy to the country.’
The BNP chairperson’s advisory council member Osman Farruk at a news briefing hours after polling on Sunday urged the government to immediately hold dialogues with the opposition to settle the issue of polls-time government to hold fair, credible and inclusive elections.
BNP standing committee member Mahbubur Rahman told New Age on Tuesday that the party should be open to dialogue alongside the movement for the holding of free, fair, credible and participatory elections.
He said that the BNP should remain ready for discussions with the government and have homework beforehand. He thinks that the next strategy for a movement should be worked out in line with the present reality saying that an election had taken place although it was farcical and without voters.
Mahbub, also a former army chief, said that the programmes should be non-violent focused on non-cooperation with the government to show that people were with the BNP.
He said that the BNP would have to have enough control in the course of the movement to head off evil forces.
Khaleda may address a news conference soon to announce the next course of action. The programme such as a ‘march for democracy’ to Dhaka might again be announced, party leaders said.
Khaleda announced a ‘march for democracy’ towards Dhaka on December 29, 2012 but it failed to take off amid government obstruction.

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