Paradigm shift in BNP politics: observers

Awami League watches BNP steps

Ahammad Foyez and Moloy Saha | Published: 00:41, Mar 09,2021


A discussion has begun among political quarters about a paradigm shift in the politics of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party after it recently observed some historic events relating to the liberation war for the first time while the ruling Awami League is observing the BNP steps to understand what the party wants to do.

Political scientists considered the BNP steps as a paradigm shift and they thought that the isolation of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami from the BNP would be permanent because of this paradigm shift which was evidenced in the party’s observance of some historic events, including those on March 2, 3 and 7.

Such an isolation of the BNP from the Jamaat will help the main opposition party to establish ties with some other parties that claim themselves as pro-liberation war parties, they also said.

Former Dhaka University professor Abul Kasem Fazlul Huq told New Age that the BNP might be observing the events after it realised that their relation with the Jamaat was wrong.

He said that the BNP move to celebrate the golden jubilee of the country’s independence was a good decision.

Basically the BNP has no specific political ideology though it is nationalist in the name, he said, adding that it is an opportunity for the party to create a political character for itself.

Jahangirnagar University professor Tareque Shamsur Rahman said that it was clear that the BNP was going through a paradigm shift and it would have ties with those parties that were against the ruling Awami League but not with the BNP for its relation with the Jamaat.

According to him, there is no way of skipping the events involving the birth of the country while national leaders also must be honoured for their contribution.

Several leaders of the BNP standing committee and members of the party’s national committee on celebration of the golden jubilee of the country’s independence told New Age that the party had undertaken the year-long programme with some specific targets, especially  which would help the party to identify with the country’s people.

The party policy makers thought that there was no reason, and no way, of doing politics bypassing the spirit of the 1971liberation war and other circumstances of independence, said party insiders.

The activities of the BNP, they said, focusing on the historic events of the liberation war would help the party to attract some parties that criticise the Awami League but do not ally with the BNP for its association with the Jamaat.

If the intimacy of the BNP with the targeted political parties and quarters increases it will be a pressure for the Awami League, they added.

Because, they said, the AL has been dominating the events relating to the war of independence for long, which creates a condition in which the AL is seen as the only party belonging to the spirit of the independence war.

They said that there was a possibility of a formal announcement from the BNP about the abandonment of its relation with the Jamaat.

They also said that a major proportion of the party leaders considered the Jamaat as the main barrier to forming a greater unity of political parties against the Awami League.

As part of its paradigm shift, the BNP gave deserved honour to all the people for their contributions during the liberation war and made it clear that the independence was no outcome of contributions of any single party or individual, they said.

About the paradigm shift, BNP standing committee member and the convener of the party’s national committee on celebration of the golden jubilee of country’s independent Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain on Sunday told New Age that the party had taken up programmes marking the historic days as this year was the 50th year of the country’s independence.

About the relation between the BNP and the Jamaat in coming days, he said that the party would take a decision in this regard.

‘The Jamaat issue is a matter of political decision for the party,’ he added.

On February 23, at a press conference, Khandaker Mosharraf  said that the party would hold year-long countrywide programmes marking the golden jubilee.

He announced programmes for the month of March saying that the other events would be announced later.

The party celebrated the national flag-hoisting day on March 2, held discussions to mark the proclamation of independence by students on March 3 and discussed the epoch-making speech delivered by the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on March 7.

Attending a view-exchange programme with journalists recently, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said that the March 7 speech was a part of our history and that should be observed with due respect.

In the national flag-hoisting day on March 2, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD president ASM Rob presented the keynote paper in the BNP’s function while Fakhrul also attended the event of the JSD on the day.

Besides, AL leaders said that they were observing the BNP steps since it announced programmes to mark the golden jubilee of the country’s independence.

Although AL leaders in public programmes were criticising the BNP for such a shift in their politics, especially around the marking of the golden jubilee of the country’s independence, the AL leadership is analysing inside the party about the apparent paradigm shift in BNP’s politics focusing on the 1971liberation war.

Talking to New Age, several AL presidium and executive committee members said that the AL was mainly worried over the BNP’s isolation from the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami while it was a big political issue for the AL suppress the BNP.

They, however, said that it would be very tough for the BNP to end its ties with the Jamaat as many central leaders of the BNP strongly supported the Jamaat, adding that they are desperate to keep the bond between the two parties.

According to them, the Jamaat’s alliance with the BNP is enough to keep some parties away from the BNP but if the relationship between the Jamaat and the BNP no longer exists the leaders of those parties that broke away from the AL on various occasions would likely unite with the BNP.

The AL leaders are also trying to identify the people behind the BNP’s idea of celebrating the historic days as well as the year-long programmes marking the 50 years of the independence.

Addressing a discussion at the National Press Club on March 7, AL joint general secretary and information minister Hasan Mahmud said that those who had banned the March 7 speech, distorted history, even banned the title ‘Bangabandhu’ had now taken an initiative to observe March 7 marking the epoch-making speech of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

‘I don’t know whether the celebration is part of a conspiracy,’ he added.

AL joint general secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim told New Age that the BNP had always led the distortion of the history, trying to make Ziaur Rahman bigger than Sheikh Mujibur Rahman while Zia was the announcer of the declaration of independence.

He said that AL leaders and activists were cautious about the activities of the BNP, adding that the AL was ready to prevent any move by the BNP to create unrest in the name of celebrating the golden jubilee of the country’s independence.

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