Tough movement after Eid if CG not restored: KhaledaStaff Correspondent
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, on Monday asked the government to accept the demand for a neutral election-time caretaker government by Ramadan and not to force the opposition to go for a ‘tougher’ course of action by ignoring the call.
She threatened to employ all means of agitation against the government, including strike and siege, after Ramadan if the demand remained
At a rally in front of BNP’s Naya Paltan central office, Khaleda announced a package of ‘peaceful’ programmes, considering public interests during Ramadan and celebration of Eid ul-Fitr, comprising five nationwide demonstrations between June 17 and July 15 on various ‘pro-people’ demands.
The BNP-led ‘18-party’ opposition alliance will stage demonstrations in the capital and elsewhere in the country on June 17 demanding constitutional provision for an election-time non-party government, withdrawal of ‘false’ cases against and release of the detained leaders. It will go out on demonstrations on June 24 against the ‘anti-people’ budget. Demonstrations will be staged on July 1 against a rise in the incidents of murder, secret killings and enforced disappearances and deterioration of law and order. The alliance will hold rallies and submit memorandums on July 8 to register protest against the crisis of power, water and other civic amenities and traffic congestions. The party will rally against uncontrolled price hike of essentials on July 15.
The opposition leader announced the programmes in her hour-long speech at that opposition’s rally after her June 11 ‘deadline’ for restoration of the caretaker provision was over.
She said the government would not be allowed to stay in office a single moment after its tenure and the incumbents must restore the non-party caretaker government system as it had removed the provision from the constitution.
Khaleda iterated that no election would be allowed under a partisan government and the BNP-led alliance would not contest it. She demanded immediate release of all the detained opposition leaders, including the acting BNP secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
The former prime minister came down hard on the government for ‘widespread’ corruption, bad governance, ‘misrule’ and its ‘compromising’ national interests. She also referred to attacks on journalists, the murders of journalist couple Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi and a Saudi embassy staff member and blasted the government for its failure to arrest the killers.
Khaleda directly accused the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, of indulging in corruption along with her family. ‘Many say members of the cabinet are involved in corruption, but I would say the prime minister herself has indulged in corruption. This government is run by a bunch of corrupt people...,’ she said.
She also accused the family of the prime minister of taking bribes for the Padma Bridge project which led to suspension of World Bank’s funding to the project. ‘This government will not be able to construct the Padma Bridge because of corruption. A relative of the prime minister living in Canada took bribe for the project,’ she alleged.
Khaleda said the journalist couple Sagar and Runi had been murdered because they had ‘information’ of corruption of the government’s rank and file.
The opposition leader blasted the government’s move to allow Sahara India Pariwar to invest in the real estate sector by giving them vast tracts of land when local realtors were failing to sell flats for lack of power connections. ‘This is done only to benefit a relative of the prime minister. A single inch of land would not be given to Sahara.’
She said she was not against foreign investment but it should be in sectors which required investment. ‘We do not need investment in sectors where we have already developed some expertise,’ she said.
Khaleda shared the sentiment of the treasury bench members on the sovereignty of parliament. ‘Democracy and rule of law are endangered... Questions have been raised whether parliament is sovereign. It has been said that the speaker of the house has committed treason. How could democracy flourish where the dignity of lawmakers is not upheld,’ she asked.
The BNP chairperson asked the government to weigh its popularity by holding election under a caretaker government after creating a level playing field. ‘No election would be accepted with you in office.’
She said the people had lost trust in the government. ‘Ruling party MPs and ministers are being given a bashing when they go to the countryside. So they are afraid of election under a neutral government,’ she added.
Khaleda said the prime minister had turned a deaf ear to the opposition’s repeated call for dialogues. ‘She [Hasina] sat with the killers of BDR officers and gave them amnesty but she is unwilling to sit with the opposition.’
The opposition leader said it seemed that the government had two targets – the opposition and the media. ‘The media in Bangladesh is vibrant. They do not hesitate to publish news reports criticising the government. This government killed 14 newsmen in past three-and-a-half years. Now they are shadowing the participants in TV talk-shows and keeping them standing in court,’ she added.
She said the government had tried all means possible to obstruct the opposition’s rally. ‘All modes of transport were suspended forcing the people into extreme sufferings but the ploy could not prevent people from attending the rally. Even they severed power connections to public address system so that the people attending the rally could not hear the speeches,’ she said, ‘This is not democracy. This is worse than autocracy...’
Thousands of leaders and activists of the ‘18-party’ alliance who thronged the rally venue welcomed Khaleda with slogans after she mounted the dais at around 4:00pm.
The crowds of opposition activists carrying festoons, banners and sheaves of paddy spilled over into Fakirerpool and Kakrail intersections. The presence of the activists of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, a major ally of BNP, in the rally was significant and their frequent chanting of slogans against the trial of its leaders at International Crimes Tribunal aroused curiosity.
Senior leaders of the alliance components also spoke at the rally presided over by Dhaka city unit BNP member-secretary Abdus Salam.
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