Bangladesh Nationalist Party
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|Chairperson||Begum Khaleda Zia|
|Secretary-General||Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir|
|Senior Vice-President||Tarique Rahman|
|Founded||September 1, 1978|
|Headquarters||28/1 Naya Paltan, Dhaka|
|Student wing||Bangladesh Jatiotabadi Chatra Dal|
|National affiliation||18 Party Alliance|
|Seats in the Jatiyo Sangshad||
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The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (Bengali: বাংলাদেশ জাতীয়তাবাদী দল, transliterated: Bangladesh Jatiotabadi Dôl), often abbreviated as BNP, is one of the two major contemporary political parties of Bangladesh. It was founded on September 1, 1978 by former Bangladeshi first President Ziaur Rahman after the Presidential election of 1978 with a view to uniting the people with nationalist ideology of the country. Since then, the BNP has won the second, fifth, sixth and eighth national election. They also won two Presidential elections in 1978 and 1981, respectively. The party also holds the record of being the largest opposition in the history of parliamentary elections of the country, with 116 seats in the seventh national election of 1996. The party does not currently have representation in the parliament after its boycott of the national election of 2014 .
The party floated the ideology of Bangladeshi Nationalism as its core concept and adopted 19 points program declaring that "The sovereignty and independence of Bangladesh, golden fruits of the historic liberation struggle, is our sacred trust and inviolable right" according to its manifesto. The founding manifesto of BNP enumerates that people of Bangladesh want to "..see that all-out faith and confidence in the Almighty Allah, Democracy, Nationalism, and Socialism of social and economic justice are reflected in all spheres of national life". The party is often criticised for violent and consistent oppression of its minorities, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists.
BNP and students wing was the driving force in the 1990 uprising against the autocratic Ershad rule that culminated in the fall of the Ershad regime and restored democracy in Bangladesh. Begum Khaleda Zia, who has been serving as the party's chairperson from 1983, was elected as first woman prime minister of Bangladesh, and second in any Muslim country of the world in 1991.
Bangladesh Jatiotabadi Chatra Dal and Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal are the associate bodies of the party as its students' wing and labour wing respectively. Besides, BNP has nine affiliated organizations.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1975-78
- 1.2 1979-1981
- 1.3 1981-1982
- 1.4 1983-1985
- 1.5 General election 1986
- 1.6 1990 Mass Uprising
- 2 Caretaker government (2006–2008)
- 3 Post-election campaigns (2012-2016)
- 4 5th National Council 2009
- 5 Party leaders
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
On February 22, 1978, a new party, Jatiyatabadi Ganatantrik Dal (JAGODAL), was formed by prominent intellectuals and members of civil society of the country with Justice Abdus Sattar as the coordinator. Most of the prominent figures were from the advisory council that was running the country at that time. Jagadal was the first attempt from the nationalist force to create a platform for the nationalists of the country. Professor Syed Ali Ahsan, Shamsul Alam Chowdhury, A.Z.M. Enayetullah Khan, Moudud Ahmed, Jakaria Chowdhury, Professor Dr. M. R. Khan, and Saifur Rahman were the prominent figures of the party. JAGODAL was dissolved on August 28, 1978 in order to consolidate its membership under the newly formed Jatiyatabadi Front.
On May 1, 1978, a political front was established namely Jatiyatabadi Front or Nationalist Front with Ziaur Rahman as the chief of the front, which JAGODAL joined soon after its formation. A major portion of NAP (Bhashani) joined the front as well with Mashiur Rahman. Shah Azizur Rahman with some of his colleagues from Muslim League joined the front. Kazi Zafar Ahmed and a faction of United Peoples Party, Maolana Matin with his Labour Party, and minority leader Rashraj Mandal with Tafsili Jati Federation joined the front.
The front nominated Ziaur Rahman as the Presidential candidate for the Presidential Election of June 3, 1978. Ziaur Rahman won the election by defeating M. A. G. Osmani of Ganatantrik Oikya Jote (United Democratic Alliance) which was backed by Bangladesh Awami League.
Formation of BNP
After the Presidential election of 1978, with a view to uniting the same minded people with nationalist ideology of the country under a broad-based national party the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) was established on September 1.
The constitution of the party was drafted in 21 days of the formation with 76 members with Ziaur Rahman as the chief convener.
Founding convening committee
- Ziaur Rahman
- Justice Abdus Sattar
- Mashiur Rahman
- Mohammad Mohammadullah
- Shah Azizur Rahman
- Captain (retd) Abdul Halim Chowdhury
- Rashraj Mandal
- Abdul Momen Khan
- Jamal Uddin Ahmed
- Dr. A. Q. M. Badruddoza Chowdhury
- Mirza Ghulam Hafiz
- Captain (retd) Nurul Huq
- Mohammad Saifur Rahman
- K. M. Obaidur Rahman
- Moudud Ahmed
- Shamsul Huda Chowdhury
- A.Z.M. Enayetullah Khan
- S. A. Bari
- Dr. Amina Rahman
- Abdur Rahman
- Dr. M. A. Matin
- Abdul Alim
- Barrister Abul Hasnat
- Anwar Hossain Manju
- Nur Mohammad Khan
- Abdul Karim
- Shamsul Bari
- Mojibur Rahman
- Dr. Faridul Huda
- Sheikh Ali Ashraf
- Abdul Rahman Bishwas
- Barrister Abdul Huq
- Imran Ali Sarker
- Dewan Sirajul Huq
- Emdadur Rahman
- Advocate Afsar Uddin
- Kabir Chowdhury
- Dr. M. R. Khan
- Captain (retd) Sujat Ali
- Tushar Kanti Baroi
- Sunil Gupta
- Rezaul Bari Dina
- Anisur Rahman
- Abul Kashem
- Mansur Ali Sarker
- Abdul Hamid Chowdhury
- Mansur Ali
- Julmat Ali Khan
- Nazmul Huda
- Mahbub Ahmed
- Abu Said Khan
- Mohammad Ismail
- Sirajul Huq Mantu
- Shah Badrul Huq
- Abdur Rauf
- Jahir Uddin Khan
- Sultan Ahmed Chowdhury
- Toriqul Islam
- Anwarul Huq Chowdhury
- Moin Uddin Khan
- M. A. Sattar
- Haji Jalal
- Ahmed Ali Mandal
- Shahed Ali
- Abdul Wadud
- Shah Abdul Halim
- Muhammad Jamiruddin Sircar
- Atauddin Khan
- Abdur Razzaq Chowdhury
- Ahmed Ali
BNP formed its first government in 1979 after the second national election. Organizational structure of the party was created within this period as well. BNP during this time attracted a large pool of supporters and activists who joined its newly formed students wing and youth wing.
1979 National Election
|Bangladesh Nationalist Party||207||41%|
|Bangladesh Awami League||39||25%|
|Democratic Islamic Alliance||20||10%|
|Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal||8||5%|
The election was much credible according to the observers. Almost all the parties joined the election and BNP emerged as victor in the election with 207 seats. Awami League (Malek) got 39 seats and became the opposition party in the parliament while among others Democratic Islamic Alliance of Muslim League and Islamic Democratic League won 20 seats, and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal got 8 seats. Independent candidates won 16 seats.
After the election, BNP with two-third majority formed the government. The first session of the parliament started on April 2, 1979. It elected Shah Azizur Rahman as the Prime Minister and the leader of the parliament. Mirza Ghulam Hafiz was elected as the speaker of the parliament. Asaduzzaman Khan from Awami League became the leader of opposition.
After the formation of the government, the first executive committee of the party was declared. A national standing committee was formed which was considered as the highest decision making forum of the party with 12 members.
Founding National Standing Committee
A youth wing was formed after the establishment of BNP as a political party in September 1978 which was named Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal with Abul Kashem as the chief convener of the wing. The Dhaka unit convener of the wing was Saifur Rahman. Within a couple of months the central executive committee of Jubo Dal was declared with Abul Kashem and Saifur Rahman as the President and General Secretary respectively. Mirza Abbas became the Dhaka unit President with Kamruzzaman Ayat Ali as the Secretary General. On May 30, 1981 the founder of the party President Ziaur Rahman was assassinated in the Chittagong Circuit House by a small group of military officials.
After the assassination of Ziaur Rahman, crowds of hundreds and thousands of people started protesting in major cities like Dhaka and Chittagong. The funeral of Ziaur Rahman became one of the largest one with the participation of millions of people in Dhaka.
Presidential election of 1981
|Bangladesh Nationalist Party||Abdus Sattar||65.80%|
|Bangladesh Awami League||Kamal Hossain||36.35%|
Formation of new government
However, Justice Sattar formed a National Security Council to let the Bangladesh Armed Forces to contribute to the development activities. Meanwhile, smelling a rat, the Vice President Mirza Nurul Huda resigned from his post in March 1982.
Military coup d'état, 1982
Army Chief Hussain Muhammad Ershad thwarted the elected government of Justice Sattar on March 24, 1982 and replaced Jusice Sattar with Justice A. F. M. Ahsanuddin Chowdhury. BNP was thrown out of the power for the first time by the bloodless coup d'état. Many of its leader were sent to jail as a part of harassment.
Harassment and split
Hussain Muhammad Ershad, after consolidating his power, started harassing the senior leaders of BNP. A campaign of mass arrest started on March 27, 1982.
Former Minister S.A. Bari, Saifur Rahman, Habibullah Khan, Tanvir Ahmed Siddiqui, Atauddin Khan, Jamal Uddin Ahmed, K.M. Obaidur Rahman, Abul Hasnat, Moudud Ahmed and 233 leaders of BNP were arrested from March to July 1982.
Formation of 7-Party Alliance
From the mid 1983, Begum Khaleda Zia started becoming the de facto decision maker of the party. Under the leadership of Begum Khaleda Zia, BNP formed a new anti-government alliance against autocratic Ershad regime. The alliance was named after the number of parties with it, 7-Party Alliance.
Anti-government movement and detention
BNP launched an anti-government movement after coordination with Awami League led 15-Party Alliance from September 1983. On November 30 the 7-Party Alliance arranged a mass gathering where they declared a nationwide strike on November 1, 1983. The nationwide strike ended with a huge success
After the successful strike, the alliance called to surround the Secretariat on November 28, 1983 along with the 15-Party Alliance.
Thousands of activists from BNP were gathered that day and surrounded the secretariat building at Paltan. Some agitated supporters from both alliances broke apart the boundary walls of building. Police retaliated with indiscriminate firing of live bullets. A ban of political activities was imposed on that night and Begum Khaleda Zia of BNP was kept under house arrest by Ershad regime.
Change in leadership
On February 29, 1984, Ershad declared that the ban on politics would be lifted on March 26 and on May 27 both the Presidential and national election would be held. 7-Party Alliance led by BNP asked for national election prior to the Presidential election. After the lifting up of the ban, Begum Khaleda Zia attended an extended meeting of the party on April 1, 1984 where she was made the acting Chairperson of the party. Later, in May of the same year, the Chairperson Justice Sattar resigned from his post and Begum Khaleda Zia was made the Chairperson of the party on May 10.
Under the leadership of Begum Khaleda Zia, the first major step BNP took was to expel the leaders like Shah Azizur Rahman, Moudud Ahmed, AKM Maidul Islam, Abdul Alim, Barrister Sultan Ahmed Chowdhury from the party. These leaders formed a committee with Shah Aziz as the President and AKM Maidul Islam as the General Secretary. This faction later joined the Jatiya Front and Jatiya Party (Ershad).
Attack on Begum Khaleda Zia
On September 23, 1984 while addressing a rally in Bogra, around 10-12 handmade grenades were charged on the rally while some of them were aimed at the stage where Begum Khaleda Zia was giving her speech.
Begum Khaleda Zia narrowly escaped injury while eleven of her party stalwarts received severe injuries.
Nationwide strike was called in protest of this attack on December 22 and 27 of the same year. Government imposed a ban on political activities on those days to foil the strike. But the ban was largely ignored and two including a student leader from Bangladesh Jatiotabadi Chatra Dal died while police opened fire on a crowd on December 22.
Upazila election 1985
|Bangladesh Nationalist Party||46|
|Bangladesh Awami League||41|
|Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal-JSD||15|
The government amid protests held upazila elections on May 15, 1985 in 251 upazilas and on May 20 of the same year in 209 upazilas.
The election was marked by rigging, stuffing, snatching of ballots and electoral fraud. As a result, Ershad's newly formed Janadal got 190 candidates as victors. Though BNP was in trouble because of the government repressions, it got 46 of its leader as upazila chairman while Awami League amid strong organizational capability fared worse than BNP with 41 upazila chairman from the party.
Formation of student alliance
In 1985, BNP's students wing Bangladesh Jatiotabadi Chatra Dal formed Shongrami Chatra Jote with Chatra League (Awranga), Chatra League (Pradhan) and five other student organizations and started its resistance against the Ershad.
General election 1986
In March 1986, Ershad declared that a national election would be held on May 7. Both 7-Party Alliance led by BNP and 15-Party Alliance led by Awami League declared to boycott the election on March 17. Both alliances declared to hold a joint rally on March 21 and a nationwide strike on March 22 as the immediate program to thwart the forthcoming election.
|Bangladesh Awami League||76||26.16%|
|Communist Party of Bangladesh||5||-|
|National Awami Party||5||-|
On March 19 at the Laldighi field of Chittagong, Sheikh Hasina declared:
But surprisingly, though Begum Khaleda Zia attended the pre-declared rally of March 21 in person, Sheikh Hasina of Awami League and Comrade Farhad of Communist Party of Bangladesh refrained themselves from attending the rally.
The night before the nationwide strike on March 22, Awami League called a meeting of 15-Party Alliance but Sheikh Hasina refused to take part in the meeting. In the meeting majority of the parties including Awami League opined in favour of the election.
General Khalilur Rahman of Awami League was maintaining close contacts with the army headquarters during the meeting that night. Sheikh Hasina was having discussion with General Khalil periodically.
On the final hours of March 21, 1986, Sheikh Hasina announced that the Awami League and her alliance will join the election. Five parties of the alliance however parted ways from Awami League after the announcement and decided to boycott the election.
BNP and the 7-Party Alliance with the newly formed 5-Party alliance of leftists started campaigning against the election while Awami League and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami joined the election.
The election was largely boycotted. BNP Chairperson mobilized a large pool of political parties and their leaders behind her to boycott the election. Apart from BNP led 7-Party Alliance and leftist 5-Party Alliance, 17 more parties including BNP (Shah Aziz), Samajbadi Dal (Nirmal Sen), Democratic League (Moshtaq), Democratic League (Oli Ahad), Islamic Democratic League, Islami Andolon (M. A. Jalil), Janata Party, Jatiya Ganatantrik Party, Labour Party (Maolana Matin), Muslim League (Kamruzzaman), Progatishil Ganatantrik Shakti and so on.
Begum Khaleda Zia reiterated that BNP would participate only if,
- The fundamental rights are restored
- All political prisoners are released
- All convictions of politicians by the military courts are cancelled
The anti-election alliance under BNP called for a nationwide strike on the election day. Unrest, voting fraud and malpractices marked the election day according to the opposition parties. Both Awami League and Jamaat-e-Islami conceded humiliating defeat in the election.
British observers including a journalist termed the elections a "tragedy for democracy" and a "cynically frustrated exercise".
Third National Council, 1987
Unification of movement
General Hussain Mohammad Ershad got himself elected on October 15, 1986. Prior to the election, Begum Khaleda Zia of BNP was put under house arrest on October 13.
In a joint declaration, the two alliances called for “Siege Dhaka” program on November 10, 1987. The government imposed a ban on gathering ahead of the program which was defied on the day, and during the program, the capital of the country virtually went under the control of opposition alliances.
This incident infuriated the opposition and a nationwide protest was called on the following day. The government came hard handed and both Begum Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina was put under house arrest on October 11.
Both the parties and their partners in the movement declared frequent nationwide strikes for the next days till the end of the year.
General election 1988
BNP was determined about not to join poll under Ershad regime and decided to boycott the general election of 1988 after the abolishment of the previous parliament. The election was held on March 3 without the participation of any popular party or alliance rather a combined opposition was made led by ASM Abdur Rab. BNP called a nationwide on the Election Day and declared to resist the election.
BNP chief Begum Zia, on June 21, 1988, suspended the national standing committee and executive committee on the party for various reasons including the failures to strengthening the party of leaders and the role of former military personnel within the party.
On July 3, 1988 Barrister Abdus Salam Talukder, a distinguished lawyer from Lincoln's Inn, was assigned with the post of Secretary General of the party instead of KM Obaidur Rahman. Soon after the removal of Obaidur, he with Jamal Uddin Ahmed and Abul Hasnat formed a new party with the same name. On July 17 of the same year, Shah Azizur Rahman dissolved the BNP faction with him and joined the party with his followers on August 26.
Barrister Abdus Salam Talukder restructured BNP, making it a stronger political platform that thrived through the critical time to topple Ershad regime.
1990 Mass Uprising
Joint declaration and movement
The movement against Ershad started gaining momentum from October 1990. BNP led 7-party alliance, Awami League led 8-party alliance and Leftist 5-party alliance started movement to usurp Hussain Muhammad Ershad from October 10, 1990 and declared a nationwide strike on that day. The strike claimed 5 lives, including the three BNP activists who were rallying in front of the central office of Jatiya Party and succumbed to death when the Jatiya Party cadres opened fire on the crowd.↵
On November 28, the opposition parties including BNP and its student wing defied the curfew and state of emergency and came out with large processions. The curfew and state of emergency was the last resort for Ershad that eventually turned no way effective by the end of November 1990.
On December 3, the protests went much violence and many died. Bombs were hurled at the Sena Kalyan Sangstha building at Motijhil. From November 27 to December 3, more than fifty protesters died.
On December 4, the mass uprising took place and Ershad declared his resignation.
Dhaka University Central Students Union (DUCSU) which has always been a centre of all popular movements in the history of Bangladesh came under the control of Bangladesh Jatiotabadi Chatra Dal after the election of June 3, 1990.
The Chatra Dal led DUCSU committee forged an alliance with all existing students group in the campus, Sarbadaliya Chatra Oikya Parishad (All-party Students Alliance Council) and staged a demonstration on October 1, 1990. The protests turned violent after the police firing on a rally of Chatra Dal on October 10 that claimed the life of Naziruddin Jehad, a Chatra Dal leader from Sirajganj who came to Dhaka to join the rally against Ershad.
The series of student protests compelled the Ershad regime to think about a safe exit.
Solidarity of teachers
On December 7, 1989, BNP supported White panel of teachers got highest number of Dean elected from their panel including Professor Anwarullah Chowdhury, Professor S M Faiz, Assistant Professor M. Anwar Hossain and Associate Professor Humayun Ahmed.
The pro-BNP White panel of teachers dominated the Dhaka University Teachers Association declared an all-out movement against Ershad regime in 1990. All the teachers decided to resign from their post on November 29, 1990 and confirmed their decision of not returning to classes until the fall of Hussain Muhammad Ershad. The firm reaction from the teachers jeopardized the Ershad regime.
After the fall of Ershad, because of the commitment to the national interest White panel of teachers won a decisive victory on December 24, 1990 the election of Dhaka University Teachers Association once again with Professor Anwarullah Chowdhury as the President of the association with Professor M. Anwar Hossain as the General Secretary.
Caretaker government (2006–2008)
The military-backed government promised to tackle the longstanding problems of corruption, filing charges against more than 160 politicians, civil servants and businessmen in 2007. Among those charged were Khaleda Zia and her two sons, as well as Sheikh Hasina, leader of the Awami League.
The Bangladesh Election Commission invited Hafizuddin's faction, rather than Khaleda Zia's, to participate in talks, effectively recognizing the former as the legitimate BNP. Khaleda Zia challenged this in court, but her appeal was rejected on April 10, 2008. After her release later that year, Zia was restored to her position as party leader.
Post-election campaigns (2012-2016)
After several movements in a period of severe political unrest between 2012-2014 to prevent the ruling party to hold the 10th general election in January 2014 without a neutral caretaker government, Khaleda led BNP and its allies boycotted the election. Incidence of violence were reported in polling day including bombing of election centers, in which BNP and its allies were accused of. Over a 100 people were killed in the 2016 Union Parishad Election in violent clashes between Awami League and BNP supporters. In 2016 BNP announced its new National Standing Committee, in which Khaleda retained her position as BNP Chairperson. New members were recruited while some older members were removed, and various new strategies for party operation were formulated.
5th National Council 2009
After sanctions by the Election Commission, the party held country-wide events in order for local leaders to play an active role in the national party. The BNP National Council empowered re-elected party chairperson Khaleda Zia to pick other members for the National Executive Committee and Standing Committee. It elected her eldest son, Tarique Rahman, to the powerful post as Senior Vice-Chairman, in a "move apparently designed to smooth his path to the party helm."
|Portrait||Took Office||Left Office||Term length|
|September 1, 1978||May 30, 1981||2 years|
|May 30, 1981||May 30, 1984||3 years|
|May 30, 1984||present||32 years|
- Chairperson: Khaleda Zia
- Senior Vice Chairperson: Tarique Rahman
- Secretary General: Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
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