Several party sources say a good number of BNP men are randomly getting vaccinated in different parts of the country although the party high command is still undecided over it and has not given any clear instructions to the party men too
BNP Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan underwent treatment for two months after having contracted Covid-19. He received the jab soon after his recovery from the virus infection.
The veteran politician has various old-age complications, including diabetes. But, he told The Business Standard that he is now doing well after taking the vaccine.
Over 20 lakh people have been inoculated in two weeks since the countrywide vaccination drive began on 7 February, but most BNP leaders and activists are yet to overcome their hesitancy over getting the vaccine shot.
Several party sources say a good number of BNP men are randomly getting vaccinated in different parts of the country although the party high command is still undecided over it and has not given any clear instructions to the party men too.
Top leaders say no party man has been stopped from taking the vaccine. They are taking the vaccine, considering their own safety.
When contacted, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, a BNP standing committee member and adviser to the party's National Coronavirus Observation Cell, said they are still monitoring the matter.
"We are still in the observation phase [about taking the vaccine]. And, we have already given our reactions to this. Bringing in Covid-19 vaccine from a single source is not right," he said.
The BNP is not forcing any decision on their party men whether to take the vaccine or not. It is totally a personal matter, the senior BNP leader said, adding that he will himself consider taking the vaccine depending on the situation.
Meanwhile, BNP Vice-Chairman Khandaker Mahbub Hossain will visit Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital in the capital today (Monday) to get the vaccine shot. "I have registered for the jab and I will take it for my own safety," he said.
Noting that it is better not to drag politics into everything, he said people were doubtful about getting the vaccine as it was not procured from the country of origin. Now, their confusions have gone away to a great extent.
When asked if he will urge leaders and activists to take the vaccine, he said, "No, I will not. It is a completely personal matter. Sheikh Hasina herself has not taken the vaccine yet. I do not see any reason to take such a decision from the party."
BNP Vice-President Barrister Shajahan Omar Bir Uttom said, "I have already registered for taking the jab, and my inoculation will be on 9 March at the Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka."
Iqbal Hossain Shyamol, general secretary of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, the student wing of the BNP, and a member of the party's National Coronavirus Observation Cell, said all political parties should have worked together to encourage people for vaccination.
"We were ready to cooperate but the government did not call us. Moreover, people have doubts about the vaccine, which has been manufactured in the neighbouring country [India]. This is what our party is pondering on," he added.
In the meantime, in a reaction on behalf of his part, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said, "The way the heads of governments in different countries are reassuring their people with the first dose of vaccine, you [the president and the prime minister] should follow suit."
In a reaction on 22 January, Rizvi also said there were doubts in people's minds as to whether the vaccine doses sent by India was developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca or by Bharat Biotech.
The government did not respond to the BNP's suggestion of launching the vaccination campaign by inoculating the head of government. The Awami League, on the other hand, has been criticising the BNP's stance on the vaccine.
At a press conference on 26 January, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader urged the BNP not to spread confusions among the people over sensitive issues like the Covid-19 vaccine.
Calling upon BNP as a political party to do constructive criticism of the government, he said, "Like, in the past, people will not take into account BNP's falsehood.
Thanking the government for being able to take the vaccine, Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon told TBS that there should have been more political involvement in the vaccination drive. Many more bureaucratic decisions are being made. That is why people did not get interested at first.
To overcome this situation, ward councillors or union council representatives need to be involved in the registration process. Mostly, the upper-class people are still getting the vaccine. But it is important to understand that the vaccine is also needed for lower-class people or domestic workers.
BNP leaders' reactions over vaccine
BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury was vaccinated along with his family at Chattogram General Hospital on 13 February.
On the day of vaccination, Khasru told journalists that the vaccine is for everyone. There is no politics about it. However, the government could buy vaccine doses directly. Instead, they wasted people's tax money by procuring those through a third party.
On the same day, Chattogram Metropolitan BNP joint convener SM Saiful Alam took the vaccine. "I am fine after being vaccinated. There are no side effects," he told TBS.
When asked about the BNP's position on the vaccine, he said the central leaders will inform them about it.
Chattogram Metropolitan BNP convener Dr Shahadat Hossain, however, was vaccinated at Chattogram Medical College Hospital on 11 February.
When contacted about the vaccination, Idris Ali, former co-office secretary of Chittagong Metropolitan BNP, said there was no instruction of staying away from vaccination. Leaders and activists are getting vaccinated.
Former Mayor of Barisal City Corporation Md Mazibur Rahman Sarwar said, "We are positive about the vaccine and planning to receive the shot very soon. I have already discussed the matter with some of my political colleagues who are interested. We all will register for the vaccine together at a convenient time."
"My family and I will take the vaccine only after all the people in the country come under the vaccination," Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul, forest and environment affairs secretary of the BNP central committee and president of Rajshahi Metropolitan unit of the party.
The government has completely failed to tackle the pandemic the way it should have. Even from the highest levels of the government, no one has got vaccinated in public. As a result, people have no confidence in them, he added.
Golam Mohammad Siraj, Bogura-6 [Sadar] lawmaker and district BNP convener, said, "I have already taken the vaccine. We are also encouraging party leaders and workers to get vaccinated. There is propaganda that BNP is against Covid vaccination, which is not true. Some 130 countries in the world have got vaccines yet, but we have. The government deserves thanks for this. In fact, good work has to be called good."
Bogura-4 (Kahaloo-Nandigram) BNP lawmaker Md Mosharraf Hossain took the jab about a week ago along with his wife.
He said, "There are rumours against BNP. In fact, BNP is not in favour of rumours. The BNP does not indulge in bad things. There are no instructions from the party on whether to get vaccinated or not. Every conscious person should be vaccinated. Party leaders and workers are getting vaccinated. However, the government should create public awareness about vaccination."
Our correspondents in Chattogram, Bogura, Barishal and Rajshahi also contributed to the report