As the countdown begins for Sunday’s showdown of the Opposition alliance with the government here, Bangladesh is virtually bracing for the worst.

Dhaka has already been delinked from other parts of the country as buses remained off the road, and river launches and most trains suspended their operations.

However, the Opposition is firm to make its ‘March to Dhaka’ programme a success. The government is equally determined to foil it.

Reports said the trains are being searched by the law enforcement authorities for arms and ammunition as they feared attempts for massive sabotage in the capital.

Transport owners say they are not plying buses or launches after being warned of possible sabotage but the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) alleges that this is a government ploy to foil the march. At least 50 drivers and bus helpers were killed in recent weeks when the Opposition alliance led by Khaleda Zia resorted to a violent campaign against the Jan. 5 parliamentary polls.

The government said that during the so-called ‘March to Democracy,’ Ms. Zia is planning to bring all those ‘hardcore terrorists’ of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami who have created havoc in many parts of the country during the recent agitation. More than 100 people died in the violence that followed the hanging of Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah for war crimes.

Ms. Zia in a video message on Friday, reiterated her appeal to people to come to Dhaka with national flags to foil the upcoming polls. Police authorities have refused to give permission to the Dhaka march in the interest of ‘public safety.’

BNP leader Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir accused the government of creating a blockade in the capital with the help of the administration to foil their march. In a statement, acting secretary general of the main opposition party urged leaders and activists of the Opposition gather in front of the party’s Nayapaltan central office here.

Awami League manifesto

The ruling Awami League on Saturday released its manifesto promising electoral reforms, total electrification and continuation of the current war crimes trials. The verdicts against the war criminals will be implemented and those ‘trying to prevent this’ will not be spared, the manifesto said.

The manifesto, released by party president Sheikh Hasina, also promises to finish the second bridge on the Jamuna and Padma rivers, empower the Anti-Corruption Commission, and bring the whole country under 4G telephony.

The 48-page manifesto contains a portion about the challenge posed by the Opposition, its agitprop politics and the disruptions caused.