Saturday, September 22, 2018

BNP appoints lobbying firm in US before general elections: Politico

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2018-09-13 20:37:08 BdST

bdnews24

The opposition BNP has hired the services of a lobbying firm in the United States ahead of the general elections, the Politico portal reported quoting a disclosure by the Department of Justice.

Certain US firms or employees are required to file a public financial disclosure report to the Justice Department.

According to the Politico report, Abdul Sattar of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party has hired Blue Star Strategies and Rasky Partners to lobby the Trump administration on its behalf ahead of parliamentary elections in Bangladesh.

“Blue Star Strategies will engage in message development and narrative; outreach to elected and appointed US Executive Branch officials; outreach to US Congress; International Financial, Health, Labor, Human Rights, Women's Empowerment and Election Monitoring Organisations; Public Policy Institutions in the US; former US officials and ambassadors; the private sector and diaspora community,” it said citing the Justice Department disclosure.

The contract with Blue Star is worth $20,000 a month in August and $35,000 a month for the rest of the year.

Rasky Partners is working as a subcontractor to Blue Star and will receive payments worth $10,000 a month in August and $15,000 a month for the rest of the year.

The BNP is at loggerheads over the oversight of the next general elections with its main rival the ruling Awami League.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who is in the United States, could not be reached for his comment over the appointment of lobbying firm.

Joint Senior Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, one of the spokespersons for the party, refused to comment when approached by bdnews24.com

Standing Committee Member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, however, dismissed reports that the BNP has turned to lobbyists. 
 
“The question of BNP appointing a lobbyist does not arise. It’s just a propaganda carried out by a quarter.”

“BNP is the most popular party in Bangladesh. If an election is organised in the least non-partisan manner, the party will get the mandate to be in power. Why will the party appoint lobbyists to get favour from foreigners? 
 
“We never practise such politics. Our strength is the people of this country,” Gayeshwar added.  

Karen Tramontano, chief executive officer at Blue Star Strategies, was the deputy chief of staff of former President Bill Clinton. John Podesta, chief operative officer at the firm, was once a senior adviser to Clinton.

In the report, Politico mentioned the name of Abdul Sattar who has no link with the BNP, says bdnews24.com’s New York Correspondent Lavlu Ansar.

But a leader of the BNP's USA wing told him that Sattar lived in London and is close to acting chief Tarique Rahman.

However, bdnews24.com could not reach Sattar for his comments on the Politico report.