Published: Monday, April 8, 2013

Hefajat breaks BNP’s heart

Angry at soft programme, main opposition decides not to support its hartal today

Hefajat breaks BNP's heart

Just a day’s hartal called by the Hefajat-e Islam appears to have upset the BNP, which wanted tougher action from the Islamist group to make April a turning point in the opposition alliance’s oust-govt movement.
The main opposition party had expected that Hefajat men from their Motijheel rally on Saturday would announce agitation programmes such as non-stop shutdowns or sit-ins for several days.
It also decided to support Hefajat actions and supplement those by enforcing more hartals and blockades.
The BNP had relied upon stalwarts of some Islamist parties that are its alliance partners to convince the Hefajat top leadership to go for tougher programmes.
The Islamist leaders, who also hold posts in Hefajat, had made hectic efforts to push through the opposition alliance’s agenda.
But Hefajat Ameer Shah Ahmad Shafi did not agree with them and only called a day-long hartal for today, sources in the alliance and Hefajat say.
On Saturday night, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, chief of the 18-party alliance, expressed her resentment at two separate meetings with the party’s policymaking body and top leaders of her alliance.
Finally, the BNP, which supported the Islamist group’s long march and provided food, drinks and other logistics to the marchers on Saturday, decided not to back today’s hartal.
Khaleda Zia also suspended the alliance’s April 10 rally.
The BNP had also given a break to its street agitations, thinking that the Hefajat would announce tougher programmes. The party-led alliance also decided not to go for any nationwide hartal after April 2.
“Now it is almost certain that April will not be a turning point in the opposition movement. The agitation has apparently lost momentum after Hefajat’s go-slow strategy,” a BNP policymaker told The Daily Star yesterday, wishing anonymity.
Asked, Brig Gen (retd) ASM Hannan Shah, a member of the national standing committee of the BNP, said people had expected that Hefajat would opt for tougher agitation programmes and political analysts had forecast it would give a boost to the opposition movement.
“The opposition one-point movement could have got pace had Hefajat announced tougher agitation programmes.”
Ahmad Abdul Quader, secretary general of Khelafat Majlish, a component of the 18-party alliance, said: “We had expected that the one-point movement would be intensified further and this month would be an effective one. But there is now a gap between expectation and reality.”
“Now, we will have to reassess our strategy about intensifying the anti-government movement,” Quader told The Daily Star yesterday.
Junaid Babunagari, secretary general of Hefajat-e Islam, acknowledged that there was immense pressure on the organisation to call non-stop hartals and to turn the rally into a sit-in.
“But our Boro Hujur [Hefajat chief] did not agree. We were committed to the government to leave the place [rally venue at Motijheel] by 5:00pm [Saturday],” Babunagari told The Daily Star yesterday.
However, some leaders, including Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, have a different viewpoint.
“They [Hefajat] did what they were supposed to do. We will intensify our movement in the days to come,” Mosharraf, member of the BNP standing committee, told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said the opposition movement had not lost momentum due to the soft programmes of Hefajat.
BNP joint secretary general Salahuddin Ahmed told The Daily Star yesterday, “We think they [Hefajat] alone will be able to enforce hartal. That’s why we did not extend our support.”
Earlier in the day, Salahuddin at a press conference announced the alliance’s 36-hour hartal beginning tomorrow morning.
A BNP policymaker, wishing anonymity, said his party had suspended the rally thinking that it might not be possible to ensure a big showdown on April 10 like the one organised by Hefajat on Saturday.

  • Mojibor Rahman

    Eventually all costs of food and drinks (provided by BNP to Hefazot men) have gone in vain.

    • Fakir Rafez

      People from all walks of life distributed foods just out of their love for Allah and Prophet (S). Please don’t question it at least.

      • Sajjad

        Mr Fakir Please watch the video footage of BNP, Jamat and Jatiya party camp distributing dry foods and liquid to these protesters and also watch the video footage of their leaders openly talking about it.

  • Mohibul Alam

    I felt like I was reading a comic article in Onion magazine.