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Keeping its eyes fixed on the next general elections, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is currently busy with three major tasks.

Party leaders said they are collecting new members, preparing to hold talks with the election commission (EC) and chalking out an outline of the supportive poll-time government.

The BNP leaders will then in December finalise the roadmap of the 11th parliamentary polls, expected to be held between October 2018 and January 2019.

Several senior leaders of the BNP said they have been pondering on organising “peaceful” demonstrations demanding assistive election-time government at the end of this year.

One of the goals of this initiative is to put pressure on the government.

The BNP leaders also suspect the proceedings of the Zia Orphanage and Zia Trust graft cases against party chairperson Khaleda Zia will be completed before the end of December and she might even be convicted.

This is why, party insiders say, the BNP has decided to finalise the election roadmap in December.

The BNP will share their opinions on amending election laws and re-demarcating the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies, while holding talks with the EC next month.

The issue came up for discussion at the BNP’s standing committee meeting on Thursday, but the party leaders remained inconclusive about it (re-demarcation of constituencies).

The party will bring with more emphasis the issue of assistive government to the forefront after the talks with the EC.

The party’s chairperson Khaleda Zia leaves Dhaka for London Saturday for treatment of her eyes and knees. Upon her return, she would give a formal proposal for an assistive poll-time government.

During the standing committee meeting on Thursday night, Khaleda Zia reiterated that no parliamentary election can be held under prime minister Sheikh Hasina as it would not provide level-playing field for other parties.

The BNP has started its drive to enrol at least 10 million new members that will run till Eid-ul-Azha. Khaleda Zia has inaugurated the drive.

Fifty three central leaders have been given responsibility of 64 districts to make the drive successful.

The BNP’s standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain told reporter that this drive would revitalize the party leaders and activists and prepare them for the next general elections.

The BNP has also been reorganizing the party. Latest reports said that it has formed committees at 49 organisational districts out of 75 organisational districts. The reorganization work, however, will remain suspended till the return of Khaleda Zia.

The BNP wants to complete the task of committee reorganization and selecting probable candidates for the next general polls during the collection of members as much as possible. The leaders concerned were directed to complete the reorganization works, including formation of all units and front organisations, by September.

Former vice chancellor of Dhaka University Emajuddin Ahmed told reporter that, “I think the BNP is moving in the right direction. A political party needs such preparations for parliamentary elections.”

Ruling Awami League presidium member and health minister Mohammad Nasim welcomed two programmes of the BNP but rejected its stand on assistive government.

“The drive to collect members is a political programme. They need to do it for the party’s sake. We also welcome their preparation to talks with the EC. We also want them to sit for talks and give specific proposals to make the EC stronger.”

The BNP thinks it would not be possible for the AL to organise “non-participatory” polls as the pressure to hold an acceptable election will be mounted from within and outside the country. This is why they are maintaining close relations with ambassadors of influential countries, the party leaders say.

The BNP’s standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan, however, said, “We are not giving importance to relations with any one particular country because we rely on the people of the country.”

Party intellectuals or think-tanks also said they have been formulating strategies considering that the political situation in the country will change before the election. Whatever be the situation, the BNP will take part in the six city corporation polls to be held in the meantime.

Many party leaders regret that they made a mistake by choosing not to contest the last parliamentary polls in 2014. Several foreign ambassadors also advised the BNP to take part in the polls.

The intellectuals further said Khaleda Zia has decided to ‘move cautiously’, especially after the experience of last parliamentary election.

Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain also said one cannot organise movements from any specific date. “We will organise peaceful programmes to create public opinion after announcing outline of assistive poll-time government. The result of the movement will depend on the government’s reaction to assistive government.”

Nasim said they [BNP] must understand that the days of hartal-blockade are over.

Well-wishers of BNP said the main objective of the party’s movement is to enforce the AL to compromise with them for a locally and internationally acceptable parliamentary election.

Emajuddin Ahmed said, “As far I know, the BNP’s movement is not radical in character. [Before the 10th general election] the prime minister said that they were being forced to organise the election on 5 January to uphold the Constitution. She invited the BNP to take charge of the home and public administration ministries during the election. The BNP’s movement is to remind the prime minister of that and put pressure on them to compromise.”

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