The BNP is preparing three proposals for the formation of a “supporting government” to lead the country through the next general election.
Although the composition of each proposal differs, they all agree that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina must not be allowed to remain as the head of the executive during the upcoming polls, which must be held by early 2019.
The BNP and its allies are haunted by memories of the most recent election in January 2014, which they boycotted after their demand for a non-party caretaker government was ignored.
The boycott did little to deter the ruling Awami League, however. In a ballot which was criticised by many domestic and international observers, over half of the ruling party’s MPs were elected unopposed.
The situation is different this time.
Although several BNP leaders have threatened another boycott if the government ignores their proposal, there is the possibility of the Election Commission cancelling the party’s registration if it fails to participate in a second consecutive national elections.
A number of senior BNP leaders told the Dhaka Tribune that they would submit three proposals about forming the polls-time “supporting government”, describing it as the party’s “most powerful trump card”.
Three BNP standing committee members, who all declined to be named, outlined the different proposals.
They said a supporting government could comprise former caretaker advisors and retired bureaucrats; all political parties to ensure political unity; or only current and former members of Parliament.
All proposals insist that Sheikh Hasina will not be allowed to be a part of the body.
Explaining the proposals, several senior BNP leaders said former advisors to the two previous caretaker governments had the experience to organize a free, fair and inclusive election.
They said the supporting government can also be formed with all the political parties who can sit and discuss the distribution of ministries and duties during election time.
The BNP leaders said forming the supporting body with only former MPs was also an option, but Parliament would have to be dissolved first. This particular proposal aims at ensuring the BNP’s participation in the body since the party boycotted the last election and does not have any representatives in Parliament.
All three proposals ask the government to ensure that the EC and police function “neutrally”.
“We have already drafted the proposals,” BNP standing committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said. “We will unveil our proposals in proper time.”
The concept of a supporting government topped the 20-point plan outlined by the BNP during its consultation dialogue with the EC.
Shama Obaid Islam, the party’s organising secretary, said a number of experts - including two veteran journalists, former election commissioners and former government officials - had worked on the proposals.
BNP’s Assistant International Affairs Secretary Rumeen Farhan said: “We hope the proposals will be accepted by everyone, including the Awami League.”