Dhaka: BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday reiterated her call to the government to hold the next general elections under a neutral government to restore the voting rights of the people. “There will be no election under a political government. The government must try to understand the pulse of the people. An impartial poll is not possible under a political government. And it’s certainly not possible under the Sheikh Hasina administration,” she said while addressing a mammoth rally at Suhrawardy Udyan.
The former premier also said that that the next general election cannot be held under the Sheikh Hasina government. In that case, people would not be able to cast their votes and ruling party goons would occupy all the polling centres, she added. “The present government wants to use force in the next election to cling on to power,” she alleged.
Khaleda said the Election Commission (EC) should deploy the Army with magistracy power during the elections. Electronic voting machines (EVMs) must not be allowed in the next polls, she added. “It the EC’s responsibility to hold a free and fair election. It should talk about the necessity of a neutral government for this purpose. It must stop the introduction of EVMs and decide to deploy the Army along with police during the polls,” she said.
The BNP chief argued that if the Army is not deployed, the ruling party’s musclemen would capture polling centres and carry out repression on opposition activists. “People are waiting on the wings. If they get a chance, they will cast their votes for the sheaf of paddy and prove that they are yet to forget Zia,” she said.
The BNP organised the rally to mark National Revolution and Solidarity Day, but it eventually turned into a show of party strength ahead of the next general polls. Khaleda said her party does not believe in the politics of vengeance, adding that it wants to bring about a qualitative change in the country’s political arena by exercising the politics of unity.
She also said unity is not possible without talks among both the ruling and opposition parties. “We want to see an effective parliament to discuss national issues,” she added.
Khaleda alleged that the AL-led government has been carrying out repression for the last 10 years. Many people have been killed and others have become victims of enforced disappearance. Thousands of people have been implicated in false cases, she added. Khaleda said although she has forgiven Sheikh Hasina, the people have not accepted the show of forgiveness. Referring to the statement of a ruling party leader, the BNP chief said they do not want to preach the politics of violence.
She, however, warned that her party wants to carry out a purification drive. During her one-hour-long speech, Khaleda focused on different electoral promises, including providing allowances for those would remain unemployed for more than one year. Referring to her party’s Vision 2030, Khaleda said if voted to power, the BNP would return the democratic rights and ownership of the country to the people, establish justice, turn population into human resources, provide free
education for all students till the master’s degree, provide free medical treatment to all citizens, introduce insurance for all in phases, provide jobs to all educated people, and provide seeds, fertiliser and insecticide at a fair price, and ensure fair price of agricultural products. The BNP chief also assured those affected by natural disasters of waivering their agricultural loans and generating rural employment.
Thousands of people from the city and nearby districts, including Narayanganj, Gazipur and Narsingdi, started thronging Suhrawardy Udyan from the morning. There was a huge gathering in and around the venue including Shahbagh, Motshya Bhaban, High Court area and Ramna Park. Many activists coming from the nearby districts alleged that they had to reach the meeting by walking from a far distance, as they did not find any transport on the way.
The BNP chairperson accused the government of creating obstructions in different places to prevent people from joining the rally. “The govenment has proved itself to be ‘mean-minded’,” she said.
Presided over by BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the rally was also addressed by Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Barrister Moudud Ahmed, Mirza Abbas, Barrister Jamiruddin Sircar, Giyeshwar Chandra Roy, Nazrul Islam Khan, Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury,Abdullah Al Noman, Advocate Joynal Abedin, Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal and Habib-un-Nabi Khan Sohel, among others.
The BNP chief accused the government of snatching the freedom of expression. She alleged that the government has failed to fulfil many of its electoral pledges. She also accused the ruling party of plundering money, saying that the cost of construction of roads and bridges in Bangladesh is three to four times higher than that in Europe and America.
She alleged that the government has forced to Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha to go abroad and later to resign. “It has been proved that the CJ has to resign as he had accused the government of controlling the lower courts and trying to control the upper court.”
Khaleda also accused ruling party leaders of laundering crores of taka abroad and indulging in corruption in the name creating a “Digital Bangladesh”. She alleged that the Anti Corruption Commission does not carry out any investigation against these people.
The BNP chief reiterated her call to international agencies and influential countries, including Russia, China and India, to immediately take effective measures to return the Rohingyas to Myanmar. She expressed her concern over the repression of women across the country. She demanded immediate release of BNP leaders and activists who were put in jail in false cases.