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BNP’s morale test after failed movement

Staff Reporter:

After its abject failure to compel the government to concede to its demands and stop the 12th national election, which damaged the morale of its leaders and activists, the main challenge of the opposition BNP is now to revive the spirit of the party men.

The opposition party has taken various measures to rejuvenate its leaders and activists in a bid to launch a fresh movement to realise its demands, including the resignation of the government and dissolution of the current parliament.

The release of many BNP leaders and activists across the country, including some high-ups, has, however, come as a relief for the party.

Some senior BNP leaders, including its Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Standing Committee members Mirza Abbas and Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, joint secretaries general Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal and Majibar Rahman Sarwar, organising secretary Emran Saleh Prince and publicity secretary Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie have been released from jail recently.

BNP sources said many party leaders and activists are likely to be freed from jail soon as they have got bail in cases filed against them while many others are about to get bail.

Many party men who went into hiding before the 7 January general election to evade arrest have also started to come out of their hideouts.

“The government imprisoned around 26,000 BNP leaders and activists over the last few months in false cases to obstruct our democratic, peaceful movement,” BNP Standing Committee member Abdul Moyeen Khan told the Daily Sun.

“We’ll continue our peaceful and constitutional movement on the streets to establish democracy, people’s voting rights and human rights by devising the next course of action keeping in mind the aggressive mentality of this one-party government,” he said.

The party sources said around 1,500 leaders and activists, including 15 central leaders, are still in jail. The party is making effort to ensure their release by providing legal aid.

The Standing Committee of the opposition party held a virtual meeting on Monday with its acting Chairman Tarique Rahman in the chair and discussed their next political strategy and future course of action. Mirza Fakhrul also joined the meeting.

At the meeting, the party policymakers decided to take various measures to keep the morale of the party men and strengthen the party through reorganising different units of it and its front and associate organisations to implement their next strategy, the meeting sources said.

As per the decision, BNP will honour the party’s affected leaders and activists and hold iftar mahfils in different units, particularly big ones in divisional cities, during the fasting month of Ramadan.

They also decided to provide financial assistance to the poor leaders and activists and Eid gifts to the families of the leaders who were either killed or became victims of enforced disappearance or were in jail at different times, the sources added.

“The big challenge for the party is to keep up the morale of our leaders and activists. The party, which is staying away from power for over 15 years, is also plagued with multiple problems,” a senior BNP leader told the Daily Sun, wishing not to be named.

Talking to the Daily Sun, BNP Vice-Chairman Mohammad Shahjahan said, “We’re now trying to stand by our affected leaders and activists. We’ve already taken various measures to this end. Our party men are united and we’ll continue our peaceful movement for democracy and people’s rights.”

Insiders said the BNP has also decided to recognise the sacrifices and devotion of the party men in the previous movement through various ways, including appointing them to deserving posts of the party’s different units and front and associate organisations.

As part of their initiative, Jhalakathi district unit BNP member Rafiqul Islam Jamal has been made religious affairs secretary of the party’s national executive committee.

BNP sources said after party leader Shahjahan Omar took the Awami League nomination in the last election, Jamal urged the party men not to get disappointed but to stay organised and continue the movement. He also announced that he would support the leaders and activists of Rajapur and Kathalia in any need.

Within a few days of the announcement, Jamal was arrested and sent to jail. He is now out on bail.

Before holding the party’s national council session, the BNP will appoint some leaders to the vacant member posts of its Standing Committee as it has become difficult to fill up the quorum with the death of some of its members and the stay of some others abroad.

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