Thousands of leaders and activists of the BNP and its associate bodies joined the party's divisional rally in Rangpur on Saturday defying a transport strike.
The rally organised by Rangpur city unit BNP, formally began on Rangpur Collector Eidgah ground, around 12pm, two hours before the scheduled time, as the venue has already been packed with opposition activists, reports UNB.
An adequate number of police and other security officials have been deployed around the rally venue and at different points of the city to prevent any untoward incident.
The organisers said the rally was meant to denounce the price hike of daily essentials and fuels, the death of five party men in previous police action in Bhola, Narayanganj, Munshiganj and Jashore, and to ensure the freedom of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.
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.
BNP senior leaders, including Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and some standing committee members, are expected to address the rally.
The BNP activists started gathering at the rally venue from late Friday afternoon and many of them stayed overnight there.
Today’s rally is the fourth rally by the BNP at the divisional level as the first one was held in Chattogram the second one in Mymensingh and the third in Khulna.
Similar rallies have been planned in other divisional headquarters to drum up support in the run-up to the next election expected to be held late next year or in early 2024.
The BNP will conclude the divisional rallies through a mass gathering in Dhaka city on December 10.
Rangpur city virtually turned into a city of processions since this morning centring the rally.
Leaders and activists from different areas of eight districts under the division came to the rally venue in processions since early morning while several thousand party activists stayed overnight there.
Though vehicle movement, except trains, practically remained halted between Rangpur and the rest of the country since Friday morning, BNP activists from eight districts under the division reached the venue overcoming obstacles.
Talking to UNB, a number of BNP activists said they took a position at the rally venue to avert possible obstruction and harassment by their ruling party counterparts and law enforcers on Saturday.
To make the rally a success, BNP men from different districts, including Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha, Thakurgaon, Panchagarh, and Dinajpur, came to Rangpur in various ways including by trains, motorbikes, auto-rickshaws, and human haulers amid an allegation of using the transport owners and workers by Awami League to enforce the strike in the region.
But the ruling party in Rangpur has denied any involvement with the transport strike.
Rangpur District Motor Owners' Association has enforced the transport strike from 6am Friday to 6pm Saturday, demanding a ban on illegal vehicles, including three-wheelers, on the highway and an end to "administrative harassment.”
BNP vice chairman Dr AZM Zahid Hossain alleged that the strike was enforced only to prevent people from joining their party’s rally.
A similar strike was also enforced ahead of BNP’s divisional rally in Khulna last week, but thousands of party leaders and activists participated in the programme overcoming the obstacles.