Protest Programmes: BNP plans to get back momentum

Whenever the BNP announces a programme, the ruling Awami League calls for a counter programme, the party's leaders also said.

Mohammad Al-Masum Molla

Mohammad Al-Masum Molla

The Daily Star


January 25, 2023

DHAKAFearing that their programmes are losing steam, top BNP leaders are considering new programmes that would bring back the pace to the movement for national election under a non-partisan interim administration.

Excitement among the activists peaked ahead of BNP’s December 10 rally in Dhaka, leaders said, adding that their plan now is to revive that momentum through different programmes in February.

The BNP and like-minded parties will hold rallies across the country as part of their simultaneous movement to mark the “democracy killing” day today.

The BNP will hold a rally in front of its Nayapaltan headquarters and is likely to announce a fresh programme for February 4 at the event, said a senior leader, wishing not to be named.

Whenever the BNP announces a programme, the ruling Awami League calls for a counter programme, said the leaders, adding that the February 4 rally will be staged to protest these counter programmes.

Three senior leaders told The Daily Star that they are likely to make an announcement at the February 4 rally about programmes like marches in Dhaka.

BNP standing committee members are also considering whether to announce similar programmes in the districts.

The standing committee, the highest policy-making body of the BNP, sat in a meeting on Monday night and discussed how the coming protest programmes can be diversified.

The top leaders also discussed how the simultaneous movement lacked pace and it may frustrate the activists, sources said.

“There was an excitement over the divisional rallies that was unprecedented. It is difficult to take the movement to that stage. But we are trying to find a way to bring back that excitement,” said a standing committee member.

Some of the programmes they talked about included a long-march towards Dhaka, a road march, laying siege to the Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s Office. None of the events were finalised.

Contacted, standing committee member Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku said before the BNP started holding protest rallies in divisions, it organised rallies in upazilas.

“There was momentum in the Dhaka rally and it was successful. It was our plan to bring a large crowd and to announce the next phase of movement. At the Dhaka rally, we announced a 10-point demand and started an agitation programme,” he said.

“Every movement has phases and every phase has characteristics. So, it is not true that the movement lost pace. Rather, the strategy is set that way.”

The BNP started holding divisional rallies in October protesting the price hike of daily essentials, electricity and fuel and killing of the party men.

The party later launched a simultaneous movement with 38 like-minded political parties.

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