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AL, BNP put on a show of strength

Archrivals Awami League and BNP seek to bring as many supporters as they can at their rallies in the capital today to show their strength and popularity.

This happens at a time when delegations from the USA and the European Union are here to assess the environment in the run-up to the national election, slated for January next year.

At its event in the capital’s Nayapaltan, the BNP will formally announce its one-point demand for the government — step down and give way to a non-partisan polls-time government.

BNP leaders say they are making the announcement while the delegations are here, and they want a sizable crowd to show that people support their demands.

On the other hand, the ruling AL on Monday decided to hold a massive rally near the gate of Baitul Mukarram National Mosque.Insiders from both camps say they want a huge gathering to show their strength and popularity ahead of their meetings with the visiting European delegation on July 15.Moreover, sources say that in order to show they act impartially, Dhaka Metropolitan Police set the same 23 conditions while giving permission for the AL and the BNP events.

Also, in a welcome change, the opposition is not seeing the usual arrests of its leaders and activists before its event.BNP insiders say their leaders may unveil a 31-point state reform proposal at today’s rally and pledge what they will do if voted to power.From its rally, the AL will counter BNP’s announcement of the one-point demand. This is why it will start the rally at 3:00pm, an hour after the BNP event starts.

Dhaka (north and south) units of the AL have taken initiatives to gather several lakh people. City unit leaders have already asked its 24 thana units and 75 ward units to take steps to gather the highest number of people. Besides, Dhaka District AL was asked to gather the highest number of people.Law enforcers will be on high alert in a one kilometre radius of each event.Many city dwellers have expressed fears of violence over the events. Besides, as the events are at two busy locations on a weekday, commuters are likely to suffer on the streets.

The DMP yesterday gave two separate letters to the parties with conditions that include confining the rallies to the designated locations, not gathering people on the streets or sidewalks outside the approved places, allowing people to gather not more than two hours before the rallies, wrapping up the events on time, not making provocative speeches, and not using sticks or rods in the name of carrying banners.According to sources, police stations in the city were asked to stay alert to the possibility of untoward incidents.They were asked to do whatever is needed to maintain law and order and told that they would be held responsible for any unwanted situation.

Police were also asked to remain patient and not give in to provocations, said sources.Besides these major events, the Gonojagoron Moncho, the Jatiyatabadi Samamona Jote, the Gono Odhikar Parishad (Reza) and the Democratic Left Alliance will hold programmes near Jatiya Press Club; the 12-Party Alliance will hold an event at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity office; the LDP at its party office near FDC; the Gono Forum near the Notre Dame College in Motijheel; and Bangladesh Labour Party on Masjid Gali in Nayapaltan. The Gono Odhikar Parishad (Nur) has said it will hold an event at 4:00pm, but has yet to announce where it will take place.

Contacted, BNP Vice Chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo said, “The BNP and its like-minded parties have agreed that they will launch a one-point movement. And an outline of the joint declaration for the state reform proposal may be announced at the rally.”BNP leaders say the announcement of the one-point demand during the two delegations’ visit is significant to them.The US and EU delegates will talk about democracy, election and human rights and see the public support for BNP, said a senior leader, wishing not to be named.

“We want to send the message that we have public support and the organisational means to realise our demands. We will say this at our meeting with the EU delegates,” said the leader.BNP activists and leaders have been working for the last few days to ensure a gathering that reflects its strength.On December 10 last year, the BNP announced a 10-point demand. The party and its allies launched a simultaneous movement on December 24.Although the Jamaat expressed support for the 10-point demand, the party is not on board with the one-point demand. Jamaat leaders say that they are now focusing on their own programmes.

BNP leaders say many of their leaders and activists have already arrived in Dhaka mainly from nearby districts.BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman is likely to join the meeting virtually and address the crowd.BNP’s one-point demand includes resignation of the government, dissolution of parliament, formation of election time neutral government, reconstitution of an Election Commission, release of all political leaders, and withdrawal of false and fabricated cases.

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