POST TIME: 17 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Khaleda imprisonment and national polls
AL, BNP ready for show of strength
Rafiqul Islam Azad and Abu Jakir

AL, BNP ready for show of strength

The Awami League (AL) and the BNP are preparing for a show of strength in the city by holding rallies at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan. The ruling party is planning to hold its rally on March 7, while the BNP will be holding its rally at the same venue or in front of the party’s central office at Nayapaltan within this month. The two major political parties of the country want to ensure a large participation by their leaders and workers in these rallies, ahead of the next general election scheduled to be held at the year-end. After the conviction and arrest of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, these rallies hold more significance. On February 8, a special court in Dhaka sentenced the BNP chief to jail for five years for her involvement in corruption. She is now in the old central jail in Dhaka.

As part of its protest against the conviction of Khaleda Zia, the BNP wants to hold a huge gathering at Suhrawardy Udyan in a bid to push its demand.

Party leaders expect that over one lakh people from the city and adjacent districts would take part in the proposed rally. The party yesterday (Friday) filed an application to the authorities to hold the rally either at Suhrawardy Udyan or in front of the party headquarters at Naya Paltan on February 22.

“The rally will be held demanding the release of Khaleda Zia,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.

He also said rallies will also be held in the districts on February 18 in demand for the release of Khaleda Zia. Central leaders have been requested to take part in the rallies in the districts, he added.

“We want to involve people in our movement. We want to carry out a movement taking the people with us,” he said. “We want to organise huge gatherings on the streets, through which we want to convey the message that people are with us and they are not with the government,” he added. Rizvi said the programme will be peaceful and there would be no terrorism and violence. He also said the government had earlier tried to accuse BNP activists randomly of carrying out terrorism and violent acts. "But this time it won’t be able to do it," he asserted.

“We will depend mainly on the people. A mass contact programme will also be continued demanding the release of the chairperson,” he added.

BNP vice-chairman Barkatullah Bulu said they would continue mass contact programmes like holding rallies demanding the release of the former premier.

He also said the central leaders would tour different districts and take part in the rallies for Khaleda’s release. The BNP leader hoped that people would turn out in strength at Dhaka’s rally next week. BNP assistant office secretary Taiful Islam Tipu said they have applied to the authorities for permission to hold Dhaka’s rally either at Suhrawardy Udyan or in front of the party’s central office on Thursday. The BNP has already organised two spells of mass contact programme, including demonstration, rallies, human chain and hunger-strike. In the third spell, the party plans to launch a mass signature collection and hold rallies demanding the release of the party chairperson.

The party is also holding a series of view-exchange meetings with people from different sections of life to know their opinion about the party’s next course of action and the next elections.

On the other hand, the AL is planning to organise a big show of strength at Suhrawardy Udyan on March 7. Party insiders said they have made preparations for a huge rally. They want to send a message to the nation ahead of the next city and national polls that the people are with the AL and its government. AL president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to attend the rally as chief guest and will address the rally. The rally will begin at 2:30pm.

AL insiders said the party high-ups have already directed leaders and workers of different associate bodies of the party to make the rally a success by joining it spontaneously.

The party also directed the leaders and workers of adjacent districts of Dhaka to attend the meeting in time and ensure huge participation to make Saturday’s rally a grand one.

To make the March 7 rally a success, AL general secretary Obaidul Quader has called a joint meeting on Sunday at the Priyanka Community Centre in front of the Dhanmondi party office.

Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, has asked his party MPs and presidents, secretaries of its associate bodies, and district leaders to attend the joint meeting.     

“Our preparations are very good. Party leaders and workers have already been asked to make the rally a success,” AL deputy office secretary barrister Biplob Barua told The Independent over the phone yesterday. He said Sheikh Hasina would be present at the rally as chief guest and will address it.