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December 10: Naya Paltan, Paltan Maidan or somewhere else?

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The BNP rally supposed to be held on 10th December in Dhaka has become a point of near conflict already. BNP wants to hold it at Naya Paltan in front of its office and the AL government insists that this won’t be allowed. With a promised crowd of a million they must go to the Paltan Maidan.

 

Clearly, it’s become the first significant test of will between the two parties and a foretaste of things to come. Both have declared their positions to be non-negotiable. And both parties have said that they have upped the political ante and pushed it into a conflict space. Who will blink first or will no one remain to be seen? And so what happens next?

 

BNP position

 

BNP has been holding a series of rallies all over the country and it’s going to be apexed by the Dhaka meet. In each of the meetings, the crowd has been high despite transport strikes and so on. Supporters have arrived even two or three days before. It’s been the best BNP show for years.

 

Read: Amid relative ease, BNP’s 8th divisional rally begins in Cumilla

 

BNP has said that it considers the Dhaka rally the peak and statements around December 10 have been many. The objective as stated was to “take over” the city of Dhaka so to speak and have it so full of BNP supporters that as per BNP, AL/GOB presence will be marginalized. BNP has asked its supporters from all over the country in the city so that Dhaka has more BNP supporters than all others. Expected crowd estimates have tanged from 5 lakhs to several millions. Going by the crowd size elsewhere this estimate is not wild.

 

So why would BNP want to go for a smaller space ? BNP has not explained yet.

 

AL and GOB position

 

AL has said that its workers will be “guarding” various points of the city and be present everywhere. They have declared that if the BNP or crowd goes out of control they will not take it too kindly and will act and let none go unpunished.

 

The IG of Police while participating in a talk show has been direct and said that any large BNP meeting held any place that is not sanctioned by the authorities will not be tolerated. He has sounded a warning that it may lead to a law and order situation and the police are responsible for maintaining that. He referred to the constitution as well saying meetings are subject to permission given. And no permission has been given as none have been sought.

 

Read: BNP can hold rally at Suhrawardy Udyan on December 10: Home Minister

 

There should be no doubt that the scenario is being primed up for a “showdown” between the two forces, the AL/GOB and the Opposition.

 

No matter what happens the situation can go chaotic. BNP sees this as political mobilization and the AL sees it as an excuse to create unrest and pile on pressure. BNP has said that there will be no election with the AL in power and it will be removed through a movement. And 10th is a final kick off of the final lap.

 

AL has said, it’s all BNP talk and it’s ready to confront any situation. The IG reminded that the 2014 valence cost several police lives and many disabling injuries. BNP also has a long list of grievances. So they all seem to be crashing towards a conflict.

 

One wonders given all the hardline positions taken, if any party can retreat or not from them now. If violence does occur, crowds spilling all over the city as BNP claims will, AL and the police won’t take it lying down. What happens next seems more appropriate than ever before.

 

Source: United News of Bangladesh