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POST TIME: 1 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
BNP to call for greater unity
Party holds 40th founding anniv rally today
RAFIQUL ISLAM AZAD

BNP to call for greater unity

BNP leader Moudud Ahmed speaks at a Bangladesh Youth Forum meeting in the capital’s National Press Club yesterday, demanding national election under a neutral government. Independent Photo

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is going to issue a clarion call at today’s rally to all political alliances and parties outside the ruling Awami League (AL)-led 14-Party
Alliance for national unity on the issue of holding the next general elections under a neutral government, said party leaders.
Party leaders from other like-minded parties are likely to attend the public meeting to mark the BNP’s founding anniversary, to be held in front of the party central office this afternoon, as guest speakers, and express their solidarity with the national unity process, hinted the leaders.
The BNP will also highlight its demands, including holding the next national elections under a neutral administration after freeing party chairperson Khaleda Zia, dissolving Parliament, deploying the Army with magistracy power during the polls, reconstituting the Election Commission (EC) and refraining from the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the forthcoming polls, the leaders added.
The BNP is celebrating its 40th founding anniversary today (September 1) in the absence of Khaleda Zia, who is serving a five-year jail term in a graft case.
However, the party plans to stage a large show of strength at its public meeting, to be held in front of the party’s central office at Naya Paltan at 2pm.
BNP standing committee members yesterday (Friday) held a meeting at their chairperson’s Gulshan office to discuss the overall situation in the political arena and party strategies, and the next course of action ahead of the next general polls,
likely to be held sometime in December this year.
Party leaders expect over 100,000 to gather at the public meeting today for a big show of strength, where it can flex its muscles before the next general elections. The party has made massive preparations to make the rally a success, the leaders hinted.
They said party leaders and activists and people from different areas of the city and adjacent districts would join today’s rally, for which they have received verbal permission from the police three days ago.
The leaders, however, alleged that the government is organising arbitrary arrests of BNP leaders and activists in the outlying districts of Dhaka like Manikganj, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Munshiganj and Narsingdi to create panic among them so that they cannot mobilise and organise people to attend the Dhaka rally.
BNP standing committee member Lt. Gen. (retd) Mahbubur Rahman told The Independent that the issue of national unity was very important at this moment, and as a major political party, the BNP would play its pioneering role in this respect. He said the party would focus on its demands, including freeing chairperson Khaleda Zia and holding the next general elections under a neutral government. The former army chief said this rally would be a larger one, as he said it would reflect the demands of the time.
Replying to a question, he said leaders from other political parties were likely to attend the meeting.
BNP joint secretary-general Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal hoped that the public meeting would be a bigger one and would focus on different contemporary issues, including national unity and the EC’s move to amend the RPO and introduce the EVM system in the next polls.
He also expects the party leaders would focus on its demands to hold the next polls under a neutral government after freeing chairperson Khaleda Zia, dissolving parliament and deploying the Army during the polls.
The former BNP lawmaker hinted that as part of the national unity process, some leaders of like-minded parties are likely to attend the rally as guests.
He alleged that the government has gone in for arbitrary arrests of BNP leaders and activists in different areas in the adjacent districts of Dhaka so that they cannot be mobilised to join today’s rally.
The last time the party had organised a rally in the capital was on November 12 last year at Suhrawardy Udyan. Its appeal to hold a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan has recently been turned down thrice. The police, however, allowed the BNP bring out an Independence Day procession from in front of the party office on March 27 this year.
On September 1, 1978, the late president, Ziaur Rahman, founded the party, wooing leaders and activists from various parties with a 19-point programme to build a self-reliant Bangladesh.
Khaleda has been kept in the Old Dhaka Central Jail since she was convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case by a lower court onFebruary 8.
Meanwhile, the BNP and its affiliated organisations have adopted elaborate programmes, including discussions, public meetings, hoisting of the party flag, placing of wreaths at the grave of the party founder and a colourful procession, to mark the party’s founding anniversary.
The party flag will be hoisted atop BNP’s Naya Paltan central office and all other offices across the country at 6am today.
Besides, the party leaders and activists will place wreaths and offer ‘munajat’ (special prayers) at the grave of its founder Ziaur Rahman at 10am.
The party will also arrange a discussion at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh, on Sunday.
After the assassination of Ziaur Rahman on 30 May 1981 in Chattogram, his widow Khaleda Zia took over the party leadership. In its 39 years, BNP has been in power four times and on the Opposition benches twice. But following its boycott of the 5 January 2014 elections, the party remains out of Parliament.
The BNP has been out of power for over 11 years since the 1/11 political changeover.