The Awami League has yet to decide the fate of the defectors who intend to contest the upcoming elections as independent candidates, according to its General Secretary Obaidul Quader.
“Have we ever said that those [members] contesting the election as independent candidates will be expelled? The Awami League has yet to make a decision,” Quader said at a media briefing on Sunday.
Quader lauded the Election Commission for taking the necessary measures to maintain the integrity of the upcoming election. “The commission is taking disciplinary decisions, transferring the government officers if needed. The Awami League or the prime minister is not doing anything. The transfer of UNOs, deputy commissioners -- everything is controlled by the commission,” he said.
Ahead of the elections, political tensions in the country have been rising, with the BNP and other like-minded parties calling for a boycott of the elections. The country's largest opposition group is pressing ahead with its campaign for the institution of a neutral election-time government.
However, Quader believes the BNP's potential absence from the ballots would not undermine the credibility of the elections as 28 registered political parties are set to participate.
"The BNP is now a single party. Earlier they had an alliance, like the 32-Party and 54-Party alliances. But now those parties have left BNP’s side. Many politicians started to leave the BNP. Then why would the upcoming election become ‘one-sided’ or illegal? The BNP is enforcing a fake protest movement which only misguides people,” he said.
"These days, they bring out flash processions in the dark. They pop up suddenly amid the fog, march, and then disappear when they see police. They have no courage,” he said.
Quader called on Tarique Rahman, acting chairperson of the BNP, to openly engage in politics if he was courageous enough. "We’re a political party and you’re our opponent. But we have never considered you enemies. We never hatched any conspiracy. We never tried to kill Khaleda Zia or Ziaur Rahman as we don’t believe in the politics of killing,” he said.
Quader said the BNP would lose its leaders and activists due to its political faux pas of staging a protest while its leader resided in London.
"These days we only see a single leader of the BNP. Other leaders never come out in public. Just one leader bringing out a flash procession of 10-12 people. Can you call it a movement? Do the public support it?”
Quader said that many BNP members wanted to leave its ‘negative politics’ and former BNP leaders taking part in the election substantiated it, noting Shamsher Mobin, Taimur Alam Khandaker, and General Ibrahim.
”Many of them returned to a positive mindset and didn’t want to ruin their political career by remaining entangled in the BNP’s negative politics. Now many of them, including top leaders like Shahjahan Omar, have started to return to a positive political life. These leaders were quite active in BNP politics. Now they have discarded the BNP.”
The minister thanked those BNP leaders on behalf of the Awami League and hoped that other BNP leaders and activists would follow in their footsteps.
The BNP has lost its leaders and activists and is now hiring goons to attack others, said Quader. They were using these goons to set off bombs, he said.