FARIDPUR, Nov 11 (UNB): The BNP is all set to stage yet another huge showdown through its sixth divisional rally on Saturday - this time in Faridpur, known as a bastion of the ruling Awami League.
By now, after holding their first five rallies to resounding success, the main opposition party has proven its strength in numbers and organisational ability. It has even gotten used to tackling the obstacles erected to prevent that success - once again they will be defying a bus strike, this time of 38 hours, that began Friday morning.
Having failed to have any effect on at least four previous occasions, transport bans hardly seem to bother the BNP and its supporters anymore.
Party leaders and activists have erected a stage on the Komorpur Abdul Aziz Institution's premises where the rally is scheduled to begin at 2pm.
Meanwhile, a day before the BNP's rally, Awami League also staged a big showdown at Russell Intersection in Faridpur city.
Thousands of ruling party leaders and activists gathered at the Russell Intersection as part of the district Awami League's scheduled demonstration in protest against anarchy and arson violence by BNP and Jamaat.
When the ruling party men were demonstrating in the city, the BNP leaders and activists who started arriving two days early and camping on site, were holding a cultural programme at their rally venue.
Several thousand leaders and activists of BNP and its associate bodies from five districts-Faridpur, Rajbari, Shariatpur, Madaripur and Gopalganj-under the division have already reached the city in advance to join the rally.
Though bus communication remained halted between Faridpur and the rest of the country since Friday morning, BNP activists from the nearby districts were seen coming to the rally venue by train, trucks and small vehicles like human haulers, auto rickshaws, three-wheelers, motorbikes, and micro-buses from Thursday itself.
Talking to UNB, BNP Organising Secretary Shama Obaed said their leaders and activists were coming to Faridpur to join the rally braving various obstacles and the challenges caused by the bus strike and drives by law enforcers.
She said police started conducting drives in different areas and arresting BNP leaders and activists from Thursday centring the rally.
"People have a perception that Faridpur is a stronghold of Awami League due to historical reasons. But the situation has changed and it will be proved through our mammoth rally on Saturday," Shama said.
She said people are fed up with the country's current situation and the price hikes in daily essentials: "That's why people are coming to our rally enduring all pains and sufferings."
Shama said they are expecting the participation of more than 0.1 million people in their rally.
Faridpur district bus workers and owners went on a 38-hour strike Friday morning amid BNP's allegation that it was planned to thwart their rally, causing suffering to commuters.
The strike began from 6am and will end on Saturday 8pm.
On November 7, a letter signed by Golam Nasir, Movement of buses, including that of Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), was halted in Faridpur this morning.
Passengers were seen waiting for public transport at the old bus stand, new bus stand and Imamuddin Square area of Faridpur city.
Transport worker Habibur said, "We are on strike as per our leaders' directive. We have to follow the order of our leaders to earn our daily bread."
However, the movement of three-wheelers and rented microbuses remained normal in the district.
BNP Vice Chairman AZM Zahid Hossain alleged that the government is adopting various tactics to obstruct people from joining the rally in Faridpur.
"They will not succeed and Faridpur will turn into a human sea on Saturday too like the previous divisional rallies."
Meanwhile, BNP activists started gathering in Faridpur from Wednesday, three days ahead of the party's scheduled rally, due to the strike.
The organisers have arranged food and accommodation for the BNP activists.
Abdul Aziz Institute premises have been crowded since Friday morning as BNP leaders and activists have already arrived there and they are cooking their lunch.
The rally in Faridpur on Saturday will be the 6th one by the BNP at the divisional level as five others were held in Chattogram, Mymensingh, Khulna, Rangpur and Barishal.
A similar strike was also enforced ahead of BNP's divisional rallies in Barishal, Rangpur and Khulna, but thousands of party leaders, activists and supporters participated in the rallies overcoming the obstacles.
The BNP has long been demanding that the next general election be held under a caretaker government, not under any political government--a demand sharply rejected by the ruling Awami League as the constitution does not allow it to happen.
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