The party had a plan to stage a comeback by forging an alliance with some progressive parties in 2018, but it apparently turned into another bad and shocking year for BNP as it suffered a worse defeat than anticipated in Sunday’s national election.
Political analysts think frustration and despair may grip the BNP rank and file due to its worst ever results in the national election and the party’s failure to break the cycle of bad luck for nearly 12 years since it lost power in 2006.
BNP senior leaders throughout the year 2018 tried to rejuvenate the party men by telling them that they are returning to power through the 11th parliamentary polls as majority people were with them because the ruling party lost its popularity.
The party, however, only got five seats while its alliance partner Gano Forum two in the election, plunging the party leaders and activists into deep frustration.
Political analysts think the year 2019 will be very tough and challenging for BNP as its survival in politics will be harder than ever. The party, they said, need to come up with the right strategy and actions to revitalise its grassroots and strengthen its organisational strength.
The party had started the year with a failure to hold a rally in the capital’s Suhrawardy Udyan on January 5 to observe the day as ‘Democracy Killing Day’ and the same way it finished it by facing a serious debacle in the election.
The party senior leaders, including its chairperson Khaleda Zia, remained busy throughout January this year dealing with the cases filed against them.
BNP suffered a serious blow when Khaleda was sent to jail on February 8 in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case by a lower court.
After the jailing of their chairperson, BNP waged a peaceful movement and passed their days with different action programmes for over two months which apparently did not yield any positive results.
Later, the party joined different city polls, but suffered defeat in all the cities, except in Sylhet which is a notable success of the party in the election throughout the year.
After the poor show in the city polls, BNP took a step to unite some opposition parties and became successful as it formed Jatiya Oikyafront on October 13 with Dr Kamal Hossain-led Gano Forum, ASM Abur Rob-led JSD and Mahmudur Rahman Manna-led Nagorik Oikya.
Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Bikolpa Dhara was supposed to join the alliance, but it finally remained out of it as BNP did not leave its partner Jamaat-e-Islami.
However, Kader Siddiqui-led Krishak Sramik Janata League joined Oikyafront later.
Before the election, BNP leaders sat in talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina twice, and finally joined the election under Awami League-led government.
However, BNP chief Khaleda Zia could not participate in the polls as she was convicted in two graft cases.
Evaluating BNP’s performance in 2018, BNP vice chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo said keeping party united amid the absence of their chairperson is their main success. “Forging unity with major opposition parties is our also a success.” We’ve also some failures and we couldn’t win the national polls, but we’re not finished, we’ll turn around soon.”
Dhaka University ex-Vice Chancellor Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said BNP did very good and positive politics in 2018 with few mistakes.
“They faced a setback early 2018 when Khaleda Zia was sent to jail, but they tackled the situation effectively. Despite immense repressive acts and the absence of party chairperson and acting chairman, the party rank and file was united and they took part in the elections to various local bodies though they had both successes and failures in those polls,” he said.
Emajuddin also said BNP could not properly be prepared for the general election and revitalise party grassroots as it had to carry out peaceful movement for their chairperson’s release, spend huge time on forging unity with some parties and dealing with so many cases filed against its leaders and activists in 2018.
He said BNP did not lose to Awami League in the national election rather to the administration and law enforcers.
Emajuddin, a former teacher of Dhaka University’s political science department, said BNP now should focus on its own organisation and consolidate the unity of the party from the centre to the grassroots. “They must reorganise themselves and increase their organisational activities to invigorate its disappointed leaders and activists at all levels.”
Dr Sukomal Barua, a professor of Dhaka University Pali and Buddhist Studies department and adviser to the BNP chairperson, said BNP should now clearly analyse the election and pinpoint its mistakes and work out proper strategies and plans to warm up its demoralised supporters and strengthen the party’s orgsnisation.
Dr Sukomal suggested BNP to overhaul the party and its associate bodies evaluating its dedicated leaders and alongside keeping the unity of its partners of Jatiya Oikyafront and the 20-party.unb