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Sunday, September 14, 2008
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BNP top brass hails decision on Tarique

Most policymakers and senior leaders of BNP said Khaleda Zia's decision to keep away her son Tarique Rahman from party position and politics would revamp the party and remove the long-standing conflicts between the older and younger leaders.

Talking to The Daily Star in the last two days, a number of top BNP leaders expressed happiness about Khaleda's decision, saying now it would be easier for them to guide the party chairperson in taking decisions and bring the party back in track.

There would be no more influence from the Hawa Bhaban-based "immature" young people who ruined the party and made fortunes, they said.

"Possibly this is her [Khaleda's] wisest decision...Only if she could control him [Tarique] long before...I am sure there would not be such debacle for BNP that took place following 1/11," said a BNP Standing Committee member, requesting anonymity.

The leaders said the party chief has advised senior leaders to proceed in a peaceful manner and lay utmost importance on uniting the party first and bring back leaders and workers sidelined for long. She also suggested being more accommodative to consolidate the party.

They said Khaleda is much eager to remove the indiscipline created within the party following her arrest on September 3 last year.

Her first step would be to unite the party that split over reforms issue and she is confident about bringing all in the mainstream fold as the reformist leaders expressed unconditional allegiance to Khaleda's leadership, the leaders added.

They said Khaleda has strongly warned all against harassing any leader and worker, who being either misguided or pressurised went against her leadership in her absence.

"She has instructed all units of the party to avoid any provocation and confrontation," said a top leader of the BNP.

Sources meanwhile said Khaleda has asked party policymakers to initiate talks with other smaller right-wing political parties, especially the pro-Islam ones, so that the BNP-led alliance emerges as a strong front in the December parliamentary election.

Highly placed sources said the BNP high command is now desperate to contest the general election against archrival Awami League. They said soon Khaleda would assign several top-ranking BNP leaders to talk with the leaders of smaller parties for "greater unity".

The BNP leaders said after holding a series of meetings with different wings of the party in Dhaka, Khaleda would tour to different districts immediately after Eid-ul-Fitr to strengthen party activities and hold public meetings and mass contact programmes.

They said her tour would definitely revamp the party and launch a massive poll campaign, showing the intensity of the government's "crash" programme on the BNP since the promulgation of the state of emergency.

"Although we do not want a confrontation with the government, we will definitely highlight its moves made in about two years to weaken and split the party," said a BNP Standing Committee member.

Sources said immediately after Khaleda's release, BNP policymakers asked party units across the country to hold meetings to draw public support.

Replying to a question, a top BNP leader said during its dialogue with the government and the Election Commission the BNP would request them to ensure a level playing field. It will also urge the government not to keep party leaders and workers on the run and allow them to join party activities before the general election.

He also said the BNP sincerely wants to reach an understanding with the Awami League and work with it to stop recurrence of unusual situations like that of January 11 in the country in future.

"We will try our best to hold a dialogue with the Awami League to reach a consensus on important issues," the BNP leader said, adding, "Khaleda Zia is ready to hold talks with Sheikh Hasina when she returns to country after treatment.

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