November 10, 2023
PHNOM PENH – The BNP is planning to intensify its oust-government movement by blending hartals and blockades with programmes like sit-ins right after the announcement of the election schedule, party insiders said.
It is now consulting its grassroots and also the like-minded parties on the next course of action.
BNP sources said senior leaders are not in favour of taking the foot off the throttle once the election schedule is announced. They even are considering giving no weekend breaks.
“Our movement will pick up pace soon after the Election Commission announces the election schedule. We may add on programmes like sit-ins,” said a standing committee member of the BNP, wishing not to be named.
The EC met President Mohammed Shahabuddin yesterday and told journalists afterwards that the election schedule will be unveiled soon.
Even though no date was mentioned, sources at the EC said the schedule could be announced between November 14 and 16.
The BNP yesterday called a 48-hour nationwide blockade that will end on Tuesday, November 14, morning.
This is the fourth spell of blockades since October 31.
BNP sources said they might call fresh hartals or blockades on Monday, November 13, but if the EC announces the election schedule on Tuesday, they would add sit-ins to their protest programmes.
The party during its standing committee meeting on Wednesday night analysed the ongoing blockade and discussed movement strategy.
A committee member said their primary goal was to isolate Dhaka and that they had been successful in the last three phases of blockade.
The member believed the government would concede their demand for polls under a non-partisan interim government if this situation continued for a few more days as the economic and international pressure would be piling on.
BNP leaders said the international communities are closely watching the situation, and it won’t be easy for the government to hold elections like those of 2014 and 2018.
The party has enforced either hartal or blockade every day since its rally on October 28 was foiled, with the exception being weekends and November 7, which the BNP observes as the National Revolution and Solidarity Day.
Meanwhile, BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman instructed the party’s possible MP candidates to go to their constituencies to help intensify the movement.
Soon after the instruction was issued, at least five BNP leaders told The Daily Star that they had returned to their localities to coordinate the movement.
“We must step up the movement in the districts too. Not only the highways but also the regional roads must be blocked,” said a leader from Chattogram division.
Abdul Moyeen Khan, BNP standing committee member, said, “… Virtually no one inside the country or outside believes that this regime will allow the Election Commission to organise a free and fair election, to say the least. This fact has once again been corroborated by the by-elections held a few days ago when the ruling party indulged in indiscriminate sealing of ballot papers … an obvious dress rehearsal for the forthcoming general elections.
“Sadly, the Awami League government fails to realise that conducting a one-sided election to create a fictitious parliament with a domesticated opposition will serve no purpose of neither this government nor this country.”