BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has asked her party leaders and activists to remain united ahead of the next parliamentary elections and not to make any imprudent decision or walk into any trap.
“I am always with you and will be with you no matter wherever I am. Let's face any type of upcoming danger together ... we will work together in our good days as well,” she said, apparently referring to the graft case verdict to be delivered on Thursday and its possible implications.
Khaleda came up with the statements at the party's executive committee meeting at a city hotel yesterday.
A total of 42 executive committee leaders spoke at the closed-door session where they vowed to wage a movement if Khaleda is convicted in the graft case.
They also expressed absolute loyalty to the party chief, saying they would not participate in elections without Khaleda and if anyone does otherwise, he or she will be treated as a betrayer.
In response, the former prime minister said, “There could be various sabotage activities against the party. So be careful.
The consequences of betrayal will not be good.”
She went on, “From this meeting, I would like to urge all to remain united in any circumstances. There will be various plots and repressive acts against you. They will try to harass you in every way but don't be afraid.”
BNP insiders say Khaleda wants to circulate a message among the ranks and files that the government might attempt to divide the party and bring a faction to the election.
After Khaleda was arrested and sent to jail during the army-backed caretaker regime, there was a split in the party.
Before the arrest, she expelled party's secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and appointed Khandaker Delwar Hossain to the post.
Party leaders fear the government might try to split the BNP again and the 20-party alliance if Khaleda is convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
Khaleda said those who will maintain contact with both the government and the BNP can easily be identified and they will not be forgiven this time.
“I have forgiven the betrayers but this will not happen again because forgiveness is for once. I want to say if anyone of you betrays the party, keep in mind that the grassroots did not betray the party and they will never do that.”
She promised to recognise those who will remain with the party in its bad days.
Khaleda also asked her fellow party men to wage protests in a peaceful and democratic way.
“We will have to be courageous to register our protest against any type of injustice and put up resistance against any injudicious move,” she said at the inaugural session of the meeting.
“I also urge the country's people to involve in peaceful programmes of BNP and 20 parties.”
Also at the programme, grassroots leaders asked the central leaders to actively participate in protests on streets as it was seen earlier that there was apparently no movement in the capital although there were huge agitations outside Dhaka.
KHALEDA FOR FAIR POLLS
The BNP chief said people want a change and this change will come through elections.
She demanded an election-time non-party government, a congenial atmosphere for voting, dissolving parliament before the polls, discarding the plan to use electronic voting machines, army deployment and neutral role of EC.
Khaleda called upon other political parties to get involved in BNP's movement by forging a national unity to save the country and ensure a credible and inclusive election.
She alleged that the government is using the police and the administration for political gain. “It is forcing police and the administration to serve its political interests. But they will work neutrally for democracy if they get a congenial atmosphere.
“We don't have any fear as the country's people, administration, police and the armed forces are with us.”
She said the next election will be held in December as per the prime minister's announcement. “If so, why they have started the election campaign so early? They have no confidence in themselves as the boat [ruling AL's election symbol] has sunk. They will not be able to win people's hearts through the campaign.”
'COURT UNDER PRESSURE'
Khaleda alleged that the country's lower courts are now under the grip of the government and they do not have the power to deliver proper judgments.
“We have seen the consequences of delivering proper judgments. A chief justice had to leave the country for delivering the right verdict in Tarique Zia's case.”
The former premier further said, “They are holding the trial [in the graft case] to keep the BNP out of election.”
The meeting adopted a motion of condolence for the demise of international and national figures, including BNP leaders and activists, at different times.
Later, party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir presented the party's organisational report. A videoed speech of BNP's Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman was played on the occasion.