BNP: A Right-wing Conservative Party with a Knack for Violence

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Published on May 5, 2023
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Abdullah Al Noman Shamim:

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is considered to be a right-wing conservative party that has been in power in Bangladesh on several occasions, with its most recent stint being from 2001 to 2006. Since its inception, the party has produced a different direction that is not in line with the main ideology of the struggle for independence in 1971, including introducing a contradictory nationalism called, Bangladeshi. This single policy divided the entire country into two mindsets and took the politics of Bangladesh into chaos.

The BNP has had a tumultuous history, marked by political violence and frequent clashes with the Awami League, civil society. The party has been accused of unprecedented corruption and authoritarianism by its critics and even the FBI.

The BNP has faced significant challenges in recent years, with its leadership being questioned, put on trial and on several occasions, imprisoned on charges of corruption and other serious crimes. The party has also been criticized for its alleged ties to extremist groups and for its opposition to the International Crimes Tribunal, which was established recently to try those responsible for war crimes committed during Bangladesh's struggle for independence in 1971. With a sharp decline in the supporter groups, BNP remains an anti-awami league political force in Bangladesh.

In the 2014 general election, BNP was excluded due to allegations of violence and corruption and a lack of commitment to participate in democratic practice. The party has also faced internal divisions and leadership crises. The party chairman and the executive chairman have gaps and differences in policy, working committee, and commitment to the core value of Independence. While the BNP remains an opposition force in Bangladesh, its past associations with negative politics, corruption, and violence have made it difficult for the party to gain broad public support. Furthermore, the ruling Awami League party has maintained a strong grip on power and support base, winning consecutive elections since 2008.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is a political party in Bangladesh that has been associated with a range of negative politics. Some of the main examples of the negative politics of the BNP can be discussed as:

1. Political violence: The BNP has been accused of promoting and engaging in political violence, with the party being linked to various acts of violence, including riots, arson attacks, rapes, bombings, and assassinations. The party has also been criticized for its association with extremist groups and for using violence to intimidate its opponents. While in power, the BNP deployed the party's extreme militia, the police, the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (the then BDR), and part of the army to counter the opposition’s three-year campaign of anti-government agitation, with grave human rights abuses taking place in the process, including torture, arbitrary detention, and excessive and indiscriminate use of force in confrontations with demonstrators. The raping and killing of the Hindu minority were appalling.

2. Religious extremism: The BNP has been accused of promoting religious extremism, with the party being linked to various extremist groups and individuals. The party has also been criticized for its support of discriminatory policies towards religious minorities, particularly Hindus and Buddhists. Some violent Islamist groups came into existence under the kleptocratic 4-Party Alliance Government led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)’s political patronage, such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). HuJI-B was backed by the Taliban. JMB was created and established during this dark time and has an extensive network and follows the Taliban’s ideals. In August 2004, HuJI-B was accused of carrying out a deadly attack at a public rally of the Awami League that killed 24 people and injured 200. The following year, JMB conducted synchronized explosions in 63 of the 64 districts of the country, targeting government buildings, major hotels, and Dhaka International Airport, killing two and injuring 50. During BNP-Jamat's rule, most of the attacks were targeting secular activists, political opponents, diplomates, foreigners, and religious minorities.

3. Corruption:  For 5 years in a row, Bangladesh was the most corrupt country in the world during the BNP regime. The period 2001-06 is considered as one of the darkest chapters in the history of Bangladesh. The kleptocratic 4-Party Alliance Government led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has been accused of widespread corruption, with the party being linked to various financial scandals and cases of embezzlement. The party has also been accused of using its vested power and state influence to engage in corrupt practices and to protect its members from prosecution.

4.  Anti-India sentiment:  The BNP has been accused of racism by promoting anti-India sentiment, with the party being linked to various acts of aggression towards India. This rhetoric aligned with the 1971 war and the mentality of Pakistan. Being a neighbouring country and having most of its borders with India, BNP does not want to walk the path of negotiation, discussion, and positive economic activities. The party has also been criticized for its support of extremist groups in neighbouring India, particularly in the Northeastern states and for promoting violence in India and Bangladesh.

5.  Authoritarianism:  The BNP has been accused of promoting an authoritarian agenda, with the party advocating for a strong, centralized state and opposing civil liberties and human rights. The party has been criticized for its supporting brutality and other forms of state violence.

6.  Not doing enough in developments:  It is widely viewed that BNP in all its terms in govt. only provided lip services. No significant developments were achieved and embraced the economy on loans and grants from overseas countries and agencies. This shortcoming has created unrest and distrust among the young voters and in the country.

7.  Failing to protect opposition party leaders:  BNP failed to safeguard the opposition party supporters and the leaders. During its time in power, the main opposition party Awami League was continuously attacked with grenades, ambush, and shooting at rallies, party offices, and homes. Widespread provoked violence created fear among its citizens. The wife of the president of Bangladesh, the finance minister, diplomats, teachers, doctors, farmers, and labourers, none were spared those attacks. Many died, and many survived with lifetime permanent injuries. BNP-Jamat led arson attacks with Acid and Petrol on the common people in the streets of Bangladesh pushing Bangladesh in the grip of fear and terror in 2013-2014.

Overall, the BNP has a history of promoting negative politics that are divisive, discriminatory, and potentially dangerous for Bangladesh and its neighbours. The party has been widely criticized for its extremist views and associations and has been largely marginalized in Bangladeshi politics as a result, especially within the young generation. All its political activities remain the same as it was 20-30 years before. In any case, the decision of who will govern Bangladesh ultimately rests with the country's citizens and with their choice between development and anarchy. BNP is still far away from understanding the emotion and feelings of 170 million people working hard for economic freedom and development targets.