The Jatiya Oikya Front on Tuesday threatened to go for street movement, including road march and rallies, if the ongoing dialogue with the government failed to yield positive results for free, fair and credible elections.
At a rally in Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka, front leaders also threatened to march towards the Election Commission if the commission announced the schedule for the 11th parliamentary elections on November 8 rejecting demand of the opposition alliance for a deferral.
The front held the rally a day before its second round of dialogue with prime minister Sheikh Hasina on its seven demands, including resignation of the government, formation of polls-time party-neutral government, dissolution of the parliament and release of BNP chief Khaleda Zia and other political prisoners.
‘If the government does not meet the seven-point demand in Wednesday’s talks at Ganabhaban, we would wage street movements like road march and rallies at divisional cities,’ said Bangladesh Nationalist Party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who chaired the rally.
Speaking as chief guest, front chief Dr Kamal Hossain, also Gono Forum president, demanded release of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia and other political prisoners and holding of fair elections.
He called on the people to unite to protect their voting rights.
Thousands of activists of the front, mostly of BNP and its associate bodies, started thronging to the venue from 11:00am holding banners, festoons and placards demanding release of Khaleda Zia. The rally began at about 1:30pm.
The meeting venue was filled up by 2:00pm and stretched towards Matsya Bhaban crossing and Shahbagh.
Traffic on the road between Matsya Bhaban crossing and Shahbagh was halted due to the flow of the participants.
It was first gathering of the front in the Dhaka since the launching of the alliance on October 13. The front earlier held rallies at Sylhet and Chittagong for the seven-point demand, including resignation of the government, formation of a party-neutral government through discussion with all political parties, dissolution of parliament and reconstitution of Election Commission before the elections and release of jailed BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and all other political prisoners.
Fakhrul said the dialogue with prime minister and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina was not fruitful but they wanted to sit in the second-round talks as they wanted to reach a solution to the crisis.
‘But no drama over the next dialogue will be accepted’, he said, ‘you (prime minister) have to step down, the parliament must be dissolved and a polls-time neutral government must be formed. There is no alternative to these conditions.’
Fakhrul said the government must release Khaleda at the first place and then the cases against BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman must be withdrawn.
‘If the government does not meet the seven-point demand in Wednesday’s talks at Ganabhaban, we would wage movement, including march towards Rajshahi and holding a rally there on November 9,’ he said.
Rallies would also be held in Khulna, Barishal and Mymensingh for the demands, he announced.
‘If the Election Commission does not defer the announcement of the polls schedule, we will march towards the commission,’ said Fakhrul.
He criticised the government for not keeping the promise to stop arrest of the front and BNP activists and implicating them in false cases.
Speaking as main speaker, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal faction president ASM Abdur Rob began his speech chanting slogans for the release of Khaleda.
He said that any announcement of polls schedule without solution in the second-round talks would be met with movement including march towards the Election Commission.
Krishak Sramik Janata League president Abdul Kader Siddique said that he did not join BNP but joined Kamal Hossain’s Jatiya Oikya Front only for restoring democracy.
He criticised the government for ‘proposal for releasing Khaleda Zia on parole.’
He said, ‘You will not be able to keep her confined.,’
Kader Siddique blasted Hasina and Hefazat-e-Islam chief Allama Shafi.
‘Shafi might forget the bloodshed of pious Muslims at Shapla Chattar, but I cannot,’ he said.
Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said that the promises in the dialogue with Hasina must be written.
He alleged that the government wanted to kill Khaleda in jail.
Manna’s remarks erupted slogans for about two minutes demanding release of Khaleda.
He said that no election could be accepted keeping Hasina in the power and demanded reformation of Election Commission and dissolution of the parliament before polls schedule.
BNP leader Mosharraf Hossain warned the government not to deceive them in the name of dialogue.
He said that there would be no alternative to movement if their demands were not met.
BNP leader Moudud Ahmed criticised the government for proposal of parole for Khaleda.
He said that it was Hasina who took oath as the prime minister when she was still on parole.
Moudud said the move for election schedule and continued arrest of front leaders and activists were contradictory to reaching a solution to the political crisis.
Gono Forum general secretary Mostafa Mohsin Montu said that the front avoided violent movement, but wanted free, fair and credible elections.
Oikya Front leaders Zafrullah Chowdhury, Sultan Mohammad Mansur, BNP leaders Jamiruddin Sircar, Rafiqul Islalm Miah, Mirza Abbas, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Moin Khan, Gono Forum leader Subrata Chowdhury and Bangladesh Jatiya Party chairman Andaleeve Rahman Partho, among others, spoke.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Politics