In a bid to strengthen the party ahead of the next general election, the BNP high-ups have launched an initiative to reinstate expelled leaders and reformists who became politically inactive after the 1/11 changeover.
In a standing committee meeting last week, the top brass have agreed in principle to bring back the former party men, and BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and some other senior leaders have been tasked with coordinating the process.
Insiders said party's acting chairman Tarique Rahman already asked senior leaders to implement the plan at the soonest possible time.
Party sources said a number of former leaders could be reintegrated by October 15-16. There are some 104 reformist leaders listed and 66 of them are already back into the fold.
“We have a plan to bring back the former leaders and there are some good prospective candidates among them for the upcoming general elections,” Jamiruddin Sircar, BNP standing committee member, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Those who want to be active again in the BNP are welcome, but no final decision has been made yet, he added.
For the first time since 1991, the BNP is neither in the government nor in the opposition now as it boycotted the general election on January 5, 2014. Some senior leaders said the party never had a hard time like this since the restoration of democracy in 1990.
The anti-government movement waged by the BNP-led 20-party alliance failed after the 2014 parliamentary polls. The party high-ups are now desperate to win the upcoming general elections.
BNP leaders said they are currently focused on organisational unity and making the party strong like it was during the 1991 general elections. The reinstatement plan is part of this effort.
“There are some 50 leaders who will soon rejoin the party and will be active in politics soon. Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is contacting them upon instruction of acting chairman Tarique Rahman,” a senior leader, wishing anonymity, told The Daily Star.
Insiders said the party high-ups are likely to re-accommodate expelled leaders Mafidul Hasan Tripty, Shahidul Haq Jamal, former lawmakers Najir Hossain, GM Siraj, SA Sultan Titu, Nurul Islam Moni and Akhtaruzzaman, among others.
Former student leaders Sanaul Huq Niru, MA Hannan, Kamrul Hasan Minto and Ershadullah are likely to come back, they added.
However, The Daily Star could not contact them.
Months after the political changeover of January 11, 2007, popularly called 1/11, a good number of BNP leaders sided with the then BNP secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan centring on a 15-poiint proposal to reform the party.
The leaders became known as “reformists”.
Later, a new BNP central committee was formed under the leadership of M Saifur Rahman and Maj (retd) Hafizuddin Ahmed, but excluding party chief Khaleda Zia, who was kept under arrest by the then caretaker administration.
Interestingly, Khaleda is behind bars also when efforts are on to bring back the reformists now.
Some district-level leaders expressed solidarity with the committee of Saifur and Hafizuddin. However, most of the reformists became inactive in politics after the 2008 national elections when BNP became the opposition.
Of the reformist leaders, Hafizuddin, Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf, Sadeque Hossain Khoka, Asadul Habib Dulu, Nasirul Haq Sabu and some others have already become active in BNP.