Top BNP leaders seem to be seized by mistrust in absence of party chairperson Khaleda Zia as they fear that the party may split ahead of the next national election.
BNP insiders said top party leaders are divided over participation in the 11th parliamentary polls as many party men are against joining the polls under the incumbent prime minister.
Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman, also senior vice-chairman of BNP, is supposed to lead the party in her absence but he has been staying in London since 2008 with multiple charges.
Speaking at a recent discussion in the capital, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, our general leaders and activists won’t leave BNP. Only a few leaders may quit the party.”
Insiders said mistrust has gripped the party’s central leaders as a section of party leaders doubts that another section is making a plot to split the party.
“It is very difficult to maintain party’s unity in absence of Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman while conspiracy goes on inside and outside the BNP.
A sense of mistrust arises among party men due to the previous worst experience,” a BNP leader said.
After Khaleda Zia’s imprisonment on February 8, the party has been running by joint leadership of its senior leaders, including Mirza Fakhrul, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain and Moudud Ahmed. BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman is giving necessary instructions to them, BNP sources said.
The appellate division of the Supreme Court on March 19 stayed till May 10 the High Court order that granted Khaleda bail for four months. Now the BNP leaders are making new strategy to face the next political development as they consider that Khaleda might not be released from jail before the next parliamentary election.
BNP insiders said the party top leaders are divided over the party’s next course of action. A group of leaders want to go for tough agitation programme soon to realise their demands and resist any move to hold the election without Khaleda and Tarique. On the other hand, another section wants to join the polls anyway.
Talking to the daily sun, some BNP leaders said it is now a crucial issue for BNP to maintain unity among the party leaders as the ruling Awami League may try to split BNP.
Before landing in jail, Khaleda at a meeting of the party said if anybody betrays the party, they will not be pardoned again.
Apprehending the possibility of split in party, the BNP also amended its charter by dropping its Article 7 that barred a convicted person from staying in a committee of the party.
Some leaders of the ruling Awami League already said that splitting BNP is now a matter of time.
Three BNP central leaders said that a faction of BNP leaders still bemoans their top leaders’ decision to boycott the January 5, 2014 general elections and they are in favour of joining next polls under whatever the poll-time administration.
Awami league general secretary Obaidul Quader recently at a programme claimed that many activists of BNP are waiting to join AL.
Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad, also special envoy to the prime minister, recently said some BNP leaders want to join his party.
Talking to the daily sun, BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said, “The government may have any plan to split BNP but there will be no benefit through it. There is no possibility of splitting BNP.”
BNP sources said a ‘rumour’ has spread recently that some senior leaders of the party, including two standing committee members, four to five vice-chairmen and other different level leaders, are planning to participate in the next parliament election under Sheikh Hasina through splitting BNP.
In this situation, BNP leader and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Advocate Zainul Abedin on Tuesday slammed a media report that had stated that party chairperson Khaleda Zia asked party standing committee member Moudud Ahmed to step aside from her counsel panel.
Asked about possibility of splitting BNP, a top leader of the party wishing not to be named said, “If any leader wants to quit the party, he may leave anytime as it will not affect BNP anyway. Earlier, some former top leaders quit the party but they didn’t succeed.”
He said there may be an offer for some leaders that if they join the next national election, then their faction will get some 30-40 seats and some of them will become minister. “The greedy leaders may quit BNP or take part in the election under Sheikh Hasina.”
BNP sources said in recent development, it seems that there is a lack of coordination and sincerity among Khaleda Zia’s lawyers and BNP leaders while the BNP chief’s bail is being delayed. Khaleda Zia also asked her lawyers why her bail is being delayed.
According to BNP senior leaders, a step has been taken to strengthen the party unity from the grassroots to the top level in the context of the evolving situation.
As per effort to maintain unity, power is also being decentralised among the party’s central leadership while BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan has recently been declared as coordinator of the 20-party alliance. Earlier, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir performed the responsibility, they added.