Despite pressure from the party rank and file, the BNP will not go for a movement right now to free its ailing chairperson Khaleda Zia, who is serving a 17-year term in two graft cases. The party rather prefers reorganisation of the organization at all levels to enable it to launch a movement, said party leaders.
Talking to The Independent, senior party leaders said there was pressure from the party rank and file to announce a tough course of action to force the government to release the former premier and provide her proper treatment. Almost all the leaders agreed that there was no alternative to a movement to free Khaleda Zia, who is serving her jail term for more than 14 months now. But the high commend wants to carrying out a reorganisation of the party first, they said.
The leaders said that reorganisation of the party was already on. Party acting chairman Tarique Rahman, living in London, was supervising the reorganizational process through Skype conferences. Party sources said Tarique Rahman, the elder son of Khaleda Zia, had so far held meetings with leaders of 48 organizational districts out of 76.
The acting chairman formed convening committees in many districts, asking them to form full-fledged committees within three months by holding conferences, said a source in the BNP central office. The acting chairman started the Skype meetings in early March and they were likely to be completed by the end of this month, said the source.
A senior leader, preferring anonymity, said the party high commend had taken the initiative to reorganise the party from the grass-roots level to revamp it. “It is not the right time to launch a movement, although the leadership realizes that the chairperson cannot be freed without movement,” said a senior leader.
He said the party would certainly go for a movement after the completion of the party reorganisation through holding a conference. BNP standing committee member Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said he also felt that it would not be possible to free the former premier without a movement.
“We are discussing the matter at different levels…The programme of political action will be taken at an appropriate time,” he said. The elderly leader, however, said they were working on a movement to free Khaleda Zia along with carrying out reorganizational work.
BNP vice chairman Barkat Ullah Bulu said the programme of a movement would be taken after completion of the reorganizational programme. “It is true that madam cannot be released without a movement. We are now reorganizing the party and a programme of action would be adopted on time,” he added.
The BNP and its allies in the 20-party alliance and Jatiya Oikyafront participated in the December 30 elections but rejected the poll result, alleging that the election was rigged. The BNP had received only six seats, while its partner Ganaforum got 2 seats from among 300 constituencies. The two Ganaforum lawmakers joined parliament, ignoring the party and Oikyafront decision.
The BNP lawmakers-elect, however, are yet to take oath. According to the Constitution, they would have to take oath by 90 days. If they do not, the seats will fall vacant. The deadline expires on April 30.