BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia failed to attend public programmes outside the capital in the last three years despite the emergence of several political and national issues during the period.
The leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) claimed that the party chairperson did not join public meetings outside the capital in the last three years for some reasons, including denial of police permission for holding public meetings, the party’s engagement in local government elections, its reorganisational process and mass arrest of its leaders and activists.
Talking to daily sun some BNP leaders said after Khaleda’s return from her London visit, the party will launch a mass contact programme in favour of their demand for election under a poll-time supportive government. But the party is still unsure of her joining the programmes outside the capital.
Asked about Khaleda’s absence in outdoor public programmes for long, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told daily sun, “BNP chairperson couldn’t attend programmes outside the capital for various reasons, including her illness and restrictions on her going outside.
She is also facing cases and appearing before court around every week.”
According to BNP insiders, Khaleda failed to appear in programmes outside Dhaka due mainly to her illness and lack of organisational strength of the party.
BNP sources said Khaleda Zia had addressed the last public meeting in Jamalpur in the last week of September in 2014, while she addressed a workers’ rally in the capital in 2016 organised by Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal, marking the May Day.
She addressed a number of public meetings before January 2015 and could not attend public meeting in Gazipur district town amid denial of police permission in December 2014, the sources added.
The BNP-led alliance made an announcement for holding a rally at Bhawal Badre Alam College playground in Gazipur on December 27, where Khaleda was scheduled to speak but the police imposed restriction on holding any programme as Gazipur district unit Chhatra League also announced a rally at the same place and on the same day.
Khaleda Zia and her party BNP are virtually confined to issuing press statements, holding press conferences and speaking at indoor programmes in Dhaka city on different political and public issues such as price hike of essential commodities, gas, electricity and government’s move to construct coal-fired power plant at Rampal near the Sundarbans.
They have also raised different issues, including their demand for holding the next general election under a non-party poll-time administration and release of their party leaders and activists detained across the country.
The BNP-led alliance boycotted the 10th parliament election held in January 5, 2014 under the Awami League government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Except for holding some indoor programmes in the capital, Khaleda hardly raised public issues, including alleged repression on her party men and election under a neutral government, through holding public meetings in district level after 2014.
Sources at BNP district-units said the party’s field level activists would have been revamped, encouraged and geared up if Khaleda Zia visited the district headquarters, particularly after the party’s ‘failed’ three-month anti-government movement from January, 2015.
BNP leaders and activists had expected that the BNP chairperson would visit Rampal to address a public meeting or lead a long march to Rampal to put pressure on the government to retreat from its move to construct the power plant over there.
The party leaders and activists also thought that the BNP chief would launch mass contact across the country, particularly divisional headquarters, against the deals signed between Dhaka and New Delhi during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in April 2017. BNP had termed the initiatives against the interest of Bangladesh and its people.
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said after returning home from London, Khaleda Zia will place supportive government formulae and then the party will launch programme to create public opinion in favour of it.
Party insiders said BNP remained out of power for a long time and the party’s chain of command has also been weak. As a result, the party leaders from grassroots to central became frustrated and lost interest in politics on street.
BNP has confined itself only to indoor programmes for the last few years.
As the party is not active on the street in holding political activity, its programmes are confined only to air-conditioned rooms either at their party offices or different other venues in the capital.
A senior leader of BNP claimed that Khaleda Zia is likely to go for an organisational tour and address public meetings in district levels after her London visit.
The BNP chairperson and her colleagues also do not attend the party’s central office at Nayapaltan in the capital for long.