Bleak future lies ahead of BNP with ‘minus two’
A leader-less BNP awaits a bleak future, as its Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir drags it to the 11th parliamentary elections minus Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman amidst mounting pressure within his party to leave the race. "He is not a tall man. But, he is right now the tallest leader among BNP leaders, who is leading the party's election campaign," the Indian Express told about Fakhrul while publishing his interview in its Saturday issue.
However, the tallest man, who said to have ignored the command of the party's fugitive acting Chairman Tarique Rahman, is going to face a vigorous challenge from other party stalwarts like Moudud Ahmed, Khandkar Mosharraf Hossain, Barkatullah Bulu and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, suggests a leaked telephone conversation aired by different television channels.
BNP vice-chairman Barkatullah Bulu was heard to have told the party standing committee member Moudud Ahmed over phone that they will gain no benefit staying in the poll race by expending a lot of money. Responding to Bulu's call, Moudud said Mirza Fakhrul did not even receive his telephone calls for the last two days.
"I've told Tarique Rahman that the aim of the participation in this election is to wage a mass movement. But is there any issue for a movement as yet?" He questioned. While talking to Bulu, Moudud also said, "I don't know what their (Mirza Fakhrul and Dr Kamal Hossain) dreams are - whether they are involved in any conspiracy to legitimise this government."
They are reportedly speculating that Mirza Fakhrul wants to become the leader of the opposition by staying in the race, as the leadership crisis in BNP limits the party's electoral prospects. Party publicity secretary Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Annie also asked the senior leaders to boycott this national polls and he did not hesitate to make his stance public. A frustrated Annie on Thursday, just two days ahead of the polls, told journalists that he urged his party - and Jatiya Oikya Front, in which BNP is a key element - to withdraw from the race.
The frustration is explicit in the rank and file of the party as it completely failed to deploy its disarrayed activists and followers in the election campaign, as Khaleda Zia-convicted in two corruption cases-is in jail and Tarique Rahman - a life time convict for the August 21, 2004 grenade attack on Sheikh Hasina's rally in the capital, now in self exile in London. However, Mirza Fakhrul, who was successful to woo his party men to accept Dr Kamal Hossain as the leader of the newly floated Jatiya Oikyfront, deserves a thanks, for he is helping the polls to be held in an inclusive manner this time.
With its staunch ally, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the BNP had boycotted the 2014 general elections, allowing an easy win to the Awami League led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The party, largely disorganised since the last election, has also failed to show much of its strength on the streets despite levelling allegations of oppression against the government.
Notably, BNP under the leadership of Mirza Fakhrul did not call for a hartal or a blockade even after jailing of Khaleda Zia on corruption charges, though the party had launched a violent movement after 2014 by throwing series of firebombs on commuter buses resulting in over a hundred people burning alive.
The death count went up to exceed two hundred. Injuries went up to two thousand. Thousands of trucks, buses and other vehicles were vandalized by the party workers. But their efforts to thwart the poll failed miserably. BNP leaders and activists are now worried about the future of party leadership when its political stance is also not clear. Many central and grassroots level leaders of the party are still in the dark about the strategy of the party and its alliance.
"We actually don't know about the strategy of our party and we are also worried what will happen next. We are not getting any specific direction from our central command. So, we cannot fully concentrate on the elections," a BNP district level leader told the Daily Observer. The party, which is well known for its anti-India stance since its inception in politics framed by late usurper Gen Ziaur Rahman, is now a frantic bid to woo India ahead of the national elections.
Earlier this year the party hastily deleted a provision in its constitution that would have barred a corruption convict from holding a party post. The High Court has now directed the Election Commission not to accept the said amendment deleting the provision. BNP did not appeal against the court decision and now the provision has become a threat to Khaleda and Tarique's entire political careers. Neither of them can hold any position in the party.
The growing infighting and lack of coordination among them and widening communication gap between the centre and grassroots have weakened the party's organizational strength. With both mother and son being convicted, BNP has no leader to bank upon who can steer the party through the elections. Now with its position in doldrums, it has become almost impossible for BNP to face Awami League, which has a vast organisational structure and is deeply entrenched into the society through its various front organisations, observers in home and abroad say. US based Associated Press (AP) on Thursday forecast that Sheikh Hasina was poised to win a record fourth term in Sunday's elections, drumming up support by promising a development bonanza."
Bloomberg in a report published on Saturday said, "Hasina's ruling Awami League, which has presided over the years of high economic growth and has handled the influx of 750,000 Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar, is widely expected to return to power. "That outcome would ensure economic policy continuity and help sustain a steady flow of foreign investments," said Bloomberg, the leader of the global business and financial news.
The political picture suggest it clearly that the electorate is set to grant a record third consecutive term to Sheikh Hasina, a Prime Minister, who has earned global applause for sheltering nearly a million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.