Internal feuds foil BNP revamp plan

June 29, 2009

The move to revamp the opposition BNP in a bottom-up approach faced obstacles at its initial-level as differences of opinion among grassroots leaders and activists surfaced over formation of the convening committees at district levels.
A number of district units failed to present full-fledged convening committees to the central committee for approval within the deadline that ended on June 25 and at least 10 units have sought more time to form the committees.
But the central committee did not extend the time and forced them to submit the committees by the next day. Two units were yet to finalise their new committees, it was learnt.
The party office secretary, Rizvi Ahmed, told New Age that they had received 69 committees till Sunday while one of those was sent back for revision. The central committee already approved two-thirds of the committees and the rest would be approved in a couple of days, he said.
A number of district units had sought for extending the time by some more days, but the appeal was refused and some committees were given a day or two to finalise the committees on ‘special consideration’, he said.
The party standing committee on June 9 announced the names of conveners of 71 district units out of 75 units and asked them to form full-fledged convening committees by June 25 and elect new committees through council session by November 15 in a bottom-up approach.
Most of the district conveners could not start their work in time due to internal conflict. Even a number of conveners had been declared unwanted by their party men in their respective areas.
Conflicting groups at the district units clashed among themselves in several districts and demonstrated against each other at many places across the country. Party office secretary Rizvi Ahmed became a victim of the wrath of grassroots activists at Rajshahi on Saturday over formation of the committees. But he termed it a ‘stray incident’.
Differences in opinion at grassroots level ensued after announcement of the names of conveners and joint-conveners which included names of persons who became controversial for their role after January 11. In some cases, it was alleged that persons convicted in various cases have been nominated.
In at least 20 districts, dissidents held demonstration and press conferences or stepped down from their party positions. Amid such a situation, the party high-ups in principle agreed to co-opt more members in the committees.
Grassroots level leaders accused the presidents and general secretaries of the past committees of indulging in nepotism in selecting the members of convening committees. In some cases some leaders also took bribe for induct particular members, it was alleged.
A BNP leader in Patuakhali said the convener of the district unit, Abdur Rashid Chunnu Mia, had inducted his son and four other relatives in the convening committee. Some completely unknown people were also in the committee.
Supporters of Chunnu Mia and their opponents also had a brawl in the party’s central office Sunday afternoon. Chunnu’s follwer MA Rab along with some others went there to know of the fate of the committee submitted by them and faced resistance from former Chhatra Dal convener ABM Mosharraf Hossain.
Irate party workers and leaders in the district staged demonstration and even set fire on the effigy of former minister and party vice-chairman Altaf Hossain Chowdhury over formation of the district unit.
Even the convener of Feni, Sayed Eskandar, who is the younger brother of party chairperson Khaleda Zia, faced resistance from dissident activists.
Party standing committee member Mahbubur Rahman admitted that there had been discords over formation of the convening committees and things would be settled before July comes. ‘We are now approving the committees and so far we have approved 30 of them … the rest will be approved within next few days.’
Mahbub said it would be tough for the party to meet the Election Commission’s deadline to hold national council by July for the small problems at grassroots level. ‘We might sit with the Election Commission and ask them to extend the deadline,’ he said.
Talking to New Age, party joint secretary general Gayeshwar Chandra Roy said such incidents were not unusual for a large party like BNP. ‘Difference of opinion is usual among grassroots leaders in the race for party positions while conflicting groups try to utilise the weak points of their opponents.’
About appeals for extending the deadline to form the committees, Gayeshwar said the party high command will soon sit to decide on their appeal. ‘It would matter little if formation of the committees is delayed for a few days,’ he added.

Courtesy of NewAgebd

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