Urging the government to create a peaceful atmosphere in the country for the next election shunning its ‘repressive acts’, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia put forward six conditions on Saturday to join the parliamentary polls by her party.
The demands are holding the next general election under a polls-time neutral government, ensuring a congenial atmosphere for voters to go to polling centres, conducting election by the Election Commission neutrally, army deployment during the polls, discarding the plan to use EVMs and dissolving parliament.
“We’re a pro-election party. We assumed power again and again through elections. We didn’t come to power with the help of anyone or being national liars,” she said speaking at the inaugural session of the party’s national executive committee’s daylong meeting that started at Hotel Le Meridian around 11:05 am.
Khaleda continued: “For that, the next general election must be held under a polls-time neutral government. The Election Commission will conduct the polls where they’ll maintain neutrality.”
She also said army should be deployed alongside the police to create a congenial atmosphere for the voters.
About the EC’s ‘plan’ to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the election, the BNP chief said, “We’ve noticed in the newspapers that they (EC) are talking about the EVMs. But EVMs will not work,” asking her party leaders whether they agreed with her.
Describing the current parliament as ‘illegal’, she demanded its dissolution to ensure a participatory election.
Khaleda also called upon other political parties to get involved with BNP’s movement by forging a national unity to save the country and ensure a credible and inclusive election.
Pointing at the verdict in her graft case to be delivered on Thursday, the BNP chairperson urged her party leaders and activists to remain united and face together any upcoming danger in an peaceful and democratic manner.
“I would like to say I’m always with you and will be with you wherever I stay. Let’s face any type of upcoming danger together …we’ll work together for the country in our good days, too,” she said.
She further said, “We’ll have to be courageous to register our protest against any type of injustice and put up resistance against any injudicious move.”
Khaleda, however, asked her party leaders and activists to carry out their protest programme in a peaceful and democratic manner. “I also urge the country’s people involved in peaceful programmes of BNP and 20 parties to restore democracy in the country.”
“From today’s meeting, I would like to urge all to remain united in any circumstances. There’ll be various plots and repressive acts against you. They’ll try to harass you in every way but don’t get afraid,” Khaleda said.
She also warned that those who will maintain contact with both the government and BNP and betray with the party can easily be identified and they will not be forgiven this time.
In an oblique reference to the trial of the graft cases filed against her, Khaleda Zia said country’s lower courts are now under the grip of the government and they do not have the power to deliver proper judgements.
“The Supreme Court said the lower courts are under the grasp of the government. They can’t work independently ….can’t deliver verdicts properly. We’ve seen the consequences of delivering proper judgements. A judge had to leave the country for delivering the right verdict in Taeique Zia’s case,” she said.
Regarding the graft case verdict to be delivered against her, the BNP chief said, “They’re holding the trial to keep BNP out of the election. But why are they holding the trial? Where there’s no crime how can trial be held? They’re doing everything abusing their power.”
Khaleda said the judiciary has no not independent as it has to work at the behest of the government.
The BNP chief alleged that immediate past Chief Justice SK Sinha had to leave the country and quit for giving a right verdict and speaking the truth.
She alleged that the government is using police and administration to gain its political interests. “They’re forcing police and the administration to be used for their political interests. But they’ll work neutrally for democracy if they get a congenial atmosphere.”
The BNP chief mentioned, “We’ve no fear as the country’s people, administration, police and the armed forces are with us.”
She said the national election will be held in December next as per the Prime Minister’s announcement. “If so, why they’ve started the election campaign so early? They’ve no confidence in themselves as the ‘boat’ has sunk badly. They won’t be able to win people’s hearts through the campaign,” said Khaleda.
In her around one-hour-and-13-minute speech, Khaleda criticised the government for what she said indulging in repressive acts, killing, enforced disappearance, widespread corruption, plundering public money, and failure to control the soaring prices of rice and other essentials, check campus violence, question paper leakage, generate employment, increase investment and ensure security of the minority communities and their assets.
Party Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir presented an organisational report at the inaugural session. A recorded speech of the party senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman was also aired at the session before Khaleda’s speech.
Around 550 leaders, including standing committee members, executive committee members, and vice-chairmen, chairperson’s advisers and presidents and secretaries of the party’s different associate bodies, attended the meeting.