Heated exchanges as BNP returns to JS
The Jatiya Sangsad on Sunday witnessed heated exchanges and subsequent expunge of ‘unparliamentary words’ as lawmakers of both ruling and opposition camps lost temper in the house on the opposition’s return after almost a year.
The speech of Bangladesh Nationalist Party lawmaker Rehana Akhtar Ranu triggered the heated exchanges when she said the prime minister had sought blessings of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ghulam Azam, accused Awami League taking sackfuls of money, protested at filing cases against Tarique Rahman, and branded the prime minister’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy a ‘drunkard’ claiming that he was jailed for keeping illegal weapon.
Her remarks enraged the Awami League lawmakers and they all shouted at her at a time.
The situation heated up as offensive words, quips and puns flew from both sides.
BNP lawmaker Shammi Akhtar and Awami League lawmaker Fazilatunnesa Bappi shouted at and advanced towards each other. Chief whips of both sides, Abdush Shahid and Zainul Abdin Farroque, intervened and stopped them but the heat continued till the house was adjourned at around 7:45pm.
BNP lawmaker Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie said Tk five crore was not an amount that BNP required to collect from a country like Pakistan. ‘ISI chief in his affidavit to a Pakistani court did not mention BNP or Bangladesh. It mentioned near ones of Nawaz Sharif,’ he said.
He said Awami League had taken ‘sackfuls of money from India’ and referred to a report carried by the Economist. ‘So think twice before speaking about BNP.’
He also referred to the alleged ‘long drive’ and ‘exchange of cash’ as narrated in a book written by Moudud Ahmed.
Speaking on Bangladesh’s success in International Tribunal on Laws of the Sea, foreign affairs minister Dipu Moni lamented that the indecent words uttered in a ‘sacred place’ like parliament ‘will not be heard
even in red-light districts.’ Opposition lawmakers also shouted at her for speaking ‘out of context’.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal lawmaker Mainuddin Khan Badal asked the speaker to ensure that offensive words were not used in parliament in the name of freedom of speech.
Speaker Abdul Hamid told him that all ‘unparliamentary words and remarks’ would be expunged.
In response, opposition chief whip Farroque said the BNP did not require learning rules of procedure from a first-time lawmaker. He said if the people sitting on the speaker’s right stopped using offensive words, the people sitting on his left would automatically stop it.
Chief whip Abdush Shahid followed Farroque and said the opposition had come to the house not to speak for the people but to retain their parliament membership. ‘If they had remained absent for eight more days they would have risked losing their membership. ‘The people are not fool. They know it well why the opposition is in the house.’
Ruling party whip ASM Firoz in his speech said the BNP seemed to be controlled by the Jamaat-e-Islami. BNP is losing its tradition because Jamaat and fundamentalists have gripped the party, he said.
The BNP-led opposition alliance on Sunday returned to parliament ending nearly a year of boycott apparently to retain their parliamentary membership.
The speaker, Abdul Hamid, welcomed the leader of the opposition, Khaleda Zia, who led 37 lawmakers of the opposition alliance to the 350-strong house after a meeting of the BNP’s parliamentary party in her office in the assembly building.
Two members of the opposition alliance, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Kazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, remained absent as the former was in jail and the house had granted the latter leave for 90 more days for his illness on his application.
Out of 285 working days of the ninth parliament till Thursday, the BNP-led opposition was present in 51 working days. The opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, attended parliament for only six days. The BNP and its two allies last attended the house on March 24, 2011. They joined parliament session on March 15, 2011 to save their membership.
‘We have returned to parliament to register our protest against the government’s misdeeds and press our demand for restoration of a non-party caretaker administration for supervision of the 2014 general elections,’ BNP lawmaker Shahid Uddin Chowdhury told parliament.
The opposition lawmakers belonging to BNP and its allies returned as many of them, including Khaleda Zia, had been at risk of losing their membership because of continuous absence from the house proceedings.
If a lawmaker remains absent from the proceedings for 90 straight sittings without permission, he or she would lose membership, according to the constitutional provision. Opposition chief Khaleda remained absent from the house for 83 straight sittings until Thursday.
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