The Bangladesh Nationalist Party has called for a countrywide sit-in protest on January 11, demanding the resignation of Sheikh Hasina and fresh elections under a caretaker government.

Thousands of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters are expected to join countrywide protests on Wednesday as the main opposition party in the South Asian nation mounts pressure on PM Sheikh Hasina to resign and announce snap elections under a caretaker government.

The four-hour sit-in protest is the second round of a public campaign launched by the BNP since the December 10 protests when the main opposition unveiled its 10-point charter of demands. The standing committee member of BNP, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain announced the sit-in protest on December 30. 

Anti-government protests have erupted across the country in recent months, with widespread power cuts and fuel price hikes adding to a worsening cost-of-living crisis in the country of 165 million people.

A defiant Sheikh Hasina has rejected demands to step down and responded by mass arrests of her critics, including top opposition leaders. 

READ MORE: Why is Bangladesh’s opposition out on the streets?

Restoring state structures 

The BNP has also come out with what it calls a 27-point outline – a set of political and constitutional reforms, including one that bars leaders from becoming President and Prime Minister for more than two consecutive terms. 

On December 19, the BNP presented its 27-point outline for the “structural reforms of the state”, proposing constitutional, judicial, and administrative changes.

The outline included the establishment of an inclusive and egalitarian “rainbow nation” based on nationalism and amalgamation of diverse views and paths.

“To achieve this, a new forward-looking 'social contract' is a must through continuous dialogue, exchange of views, and mutual understanding. A National Reconciliation Commission shall be formed in this regard," Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, the party's standing committee member, said during a press conference.

Officials from the ruling party have harshly criticised the plan. General Secretary of Awami League Obaidul Quader has claimed that the 27 points announced by BNP demanding the repair of the state is a stunt. 

“Our party (Awami League) thinks that the movement will not be successful and people will not be confused,” he says. 

In comments that appeared on the daily newspaper Prothom Alo, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen dubbed the 27-point outline as “ridiculous”.

“From 2002 to 2006, there were murders and disappearances in the country during the rule of the BNP. At that time 63 districts were bombed. 55 people died in the name of Operation Clean heart. An ambassador was bombed, he survived but many died. Therefore, it is ridiculous to mention human rights, murders, and disappearances in their plan,” he told local media. 

READ MORE: Protests intensify in Bangladesh after arrest of major opposition leader

More identity, more power

On the other hand, BNP has broken its 20-party alliance, a coalition of the country’s right-wing political parties. The party’s move is aimed at increasing pressure on the government and broadening the scope of the ongoing anti-government movement. 

According to Prothom Alo, in an informal meeting on December 10, the day before the mass rally in Dhaka the participants were invited and told not to use the name of the 20-party alliance.

 A 12-party alliance was launched instead on December 22, to support anti-government movements with a new identity. 

Six other parties are forming a 'nationalist like-minded alliance', and fifteen BNP-backed organisations have formed a new alliance called to shore up the BNP's ongoing simultaneous movement against the government. 

All of these alliances expressed their solidarity with BNP's movement.

READ MORE: Bangladesh opposition leaders released after month-long detention

Source: TRTWorld and agencies