Bangladesh opposition BNP calls for dialog!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
The ruling Awami league government continues on collusion politics even after the party swept the local municipal poll last month, leaving a meager number of seats to the opposition parties.
Local victories seem to have empowered the ruling party not to take the opposition parties seriously enough. the opposition claims that ruling party adopted unfair means in the polls. The government prefers to ignore the call by the opposition BNP for a constructive dialog for building a better nation. The confrontational attitude of ruling and opposition parties gives little scope for peaceful development of the nation.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia on January 05 urged the Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League government to sit for a dialog immediately to create positive environment conducive for holding a fair and neutral general election to restore democracy in the country. .‘Let us find a solution through discussion,’ Khaleda said at a rally Dhaka city BNP organised in front of the central BNP office at Naya Paltan marking the second anniversary of the January 5, 2014 general elections, boycotted by all opposition parties.
The ruling Awami League organised the rallies to celebrate January 5 as ‘victory day for democracy’ claiming that the January 5 municipal elections helped protect the country’s democracy and uphold the continuity of the constitutional process. The party’s local unit at different district and metropolitan cities also organised rallies marking the day.
The BNP, however, observes the day as ‘democracy killing day’ alleging that the country’s democratic process was destroyed by the January 5 elections, in which 153 lawmakers were elected unopposed amidst boycott by all opposition parties. ‘We have no grievance or grudge against anyone…But Hasina should confess to mistakes…We want to work together to restore democracy,’ Khaleda said.
Bangladesh Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said Khaleda should observe January 5 repentance day as she failed to bring army to power through foiling the elections.
Tofail, also presidium member of Awami League, said that BNP joined the municipal polls under the Sheikh Hasina’s government, but they boycotted the national polls. He also said BNP will be defeated in the 2019 general election like it suffered in the municipal polls.
It was for the first time in more than one year that the BNP chief addressed such a big open rally. Law enforcers equipped with water cannon vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carrier were deployed around the rally venue. Leaders and activists of BNP and its associate organisations join the programme from different wards of Dhaka city and its adjacent districts including Narayanganj.
Khaleda the former prime minister urged AL to test its popularity through an election under a neutral government. She said that fair and neutral election was never possible under Awami League government and that the Awami League wanted to show its popularity holding partisan local government polls for the first time. She said that AL could not assess its real popularity by using police, RAB, Chhatra League and Juba League in election.
Demanding immediate resignation of the Election Commission, Khaleda said that the commission exposed its feeling of ‘helplessness’ seeking prime minister’s intervention to contain irregularities in municipal polls. She alleged that the commission violated the constitution by not deploying army in the municipal polls and worked as an ‘agent’ of AL party and government.
The Awami League claimed that BNP accepted the government by contesting the municipal polls under the incumbents. Khaleda said that Awami League had also contested local body polls under BNP government and local government elections were usually held under the political government.
Awami League leaders urged BNP and its chairperson Khaleda Zia to wait three more years for the next general elections and said the polls will be held under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina in accordance with the constitution. Addressing two separate rallies at city’s Bangabandhu Avenue and Russel Square, they defended the January 5, 2014 elections and said martial law would have returned in the country if the elections were not held.
AL general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam, presiding over the rally at Bangabandhu Avenue, said that Khaleda as opposition leader killed 64 people, injured 1,500 and destroyed 700 vehicles in the name of protecting democracy. He called on BNP to practice ‘peaceful’ politics in the country and said the next general elections would be held in a free and fair manner. ‘It will not be necessary to anyone in that election. We believe in democracy,’ he added.
The BNP chairperson alleged that the Awami League had a link to militancy.
Citing incidents of bomb blasts at Udichi function in Jessore, Ramna Batamul and CPB rally, she said that militancy rose when AL was in power. Khaleda said that Awami League frequently scared foreigners that secularism would not exist if AL was not in power. She alleged that properties Hindu community were grabbed and church and other religious worship places were attacked during the rule of Awami League.
She said that BNP wanted peace not militancy.
Khaleda said that none would be allowed to use the soil of Bangladesh to attack others.
She asked why perpetrators of the recent killing of foreigners in Bangladesh were not identified rather BNP leaders and activists were being arrested in false cases and why street lights and CCTV cameras were switched off in Gulshan during the killing of Italian citizen Caesar Tavella. Referring to ongoing movements of teachers, engineers, physicians and various public servants, Khaleda said the government was discriminating against different cadres in favour of one or two cadres. She asked the government to meet the demands raised by different cadres or to face the consequences.
The BNP chief also asked the government to stop repression, killing, arrest and enforced disappearance to avoid dire consequences. the government is enacting new laws to repress opposition. She demanded immediate release of detained politicians and journalists including Nagarik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman, journalist leader Shawkat Mahmud and Chhatra Dal president Rajib Ahsan.
Khaleda urged people of all walks of life to get united and to carry out peaceful democratic programs to oust the ‘oppressor’ government. Presided over by city BNP convening committee member Goyeshwar Chandra Roy, the rally was also addressed by leaders of BNP and its front organisations
The AL leaders said BNP, along with Jamaat, made an all-out effort to invite an undemocratic government to save the war criminals by foiling the January 5 general elections. They urged the BNP to come to the path of democracy through participating in the next general elections and cut off all political ties with Jamaat and destructive politics. Sheikh Fazlul Huq Selim asked Khaleda why BNP had joined the municipal polls if Hasina’s government was illegal. He said there was no alternative to Awami League and Hasina for development of the country.
Leaders and activists of Awami League and its associate bodies from different parts of Dhaka and its outlying areas, carrying with them banners and placards, started gathering at the rally venue from 12:30pm onboard vehicles or through processions. Awami League advisory council member Amir Hossain Amu, addressing the rally as chief guest, said there was a conspiracy by BNP and Jamaat to foil January 5 polls so that they could invite an unconstitutional government to save the war criminals.
Awami League leader Mahbubul Alam Hanif urged the BNP leaders to reorganize the party without Khaleda Zia saying Khaleda had lost the right to do politics in Bangladesh after making derogatory remark regarding the number of liberation war martyred. Some local AL leaders addressing a rally at Chittagong Central Shaheed Minar premises said Khaleda should be driven out of the country for her derogatory remarks over the Liberation War martyrs.
As it stands, the general tone of the ruling party is very rough and tough, even mocking at the opposition for its failure in winning enough seats at least in the municipal polls.
The pseudo patriotic passions the government seeks to espouse among the people in order to win polls would not last long.