BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia addresses a 19-party alliance rally on Shaheed Abdul Aziz Khushi Railway Maidan in Rajbari yesterday. This was the BNP chairperson's first public meeting outside the capital since the January 5 general election which was boycotted by the alliance. Photo: Star
The BNP-led 19-party alliance will wage a fresh anti-government movement after the ongoing upazila polls demanding national elections under non-party administration, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia said yesterday.
The results of the upazila elections have proved that people do not want to see this government in power any more, she told a mammoth rally at the town's Railway Maidan.
It was her first public meeting outside the capital since the January 5 parliamentary polls were boycotted by the alliance.
Out of 487 upazilas, elections have been held in 212 so far in two phases. The BNP-backed chairman candidates have won in 95 upazilas, while the Awami League favourites in 78.
The third, fourth and fifth rounds of the elections will be held by March 31, completing polls in around 465 upazilas. The rest of the upazilas are likely to go to polls in September, said sources in the Election Commission.
Pointing at the recent snatching of three JMB men from police custody, Khaleda said, the “self-declared” prime minister, who is also in charge of the home ministry, is responsible for the incident and the “so-called government” will be held accountable for this.
“Our telephone conversations are being tapped. But how the militants behind bars could plan such an escape through telephonic communications [with their cohorts]? Why the government could not track it down?” she questioned.
She added: “I want to make it clear that there will be no place for any militant or al-Qaeda in Bangladesh. No one from outside will be allowed to use this country for militant activities.”
“I'll ask the students and youths to rise up in protest and wage a movement. We had sacrificed a lot, shed much blood during the Liberation War. Then why shouldn't we shed blood to save the country? Otherwise, the sacrifice we had made and the blood we had shed would go in vain. This we can't allow to happen,” she mentioned.
On the upazila elections results, she said the AL-backed candidates even lost in their strongholds. “In Gopalganj, BNP men won in two upazilas,” she added.
“It means that popularity of the illegal government is sliding and they are nonexistent in districts. If the elections were free and fair, they could have won only in a few upazilas,” noted Khaleda, also the chief of the 19-party combine.
Flanked by the central and Rajbari district BNP leaders, Khaleda briefly outlined out her party's plan of giving priority to education, agriculture, employment generation and balanced development in all upazilas if it returned to power.
She also pledged giving priority to building a corruption-free country, establishing an impartial administration and Public Service Commission, strengthening the Election Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission and other constitutional and statutory bodies to make sure that people get justice.
On the demands of local people, she said if voted to power her party will construct another Padma bridge at Patuaria point and a university in Rajbari.
Blasting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the AL, Khaleda said: “They [Hasina govt] can't be termed a government. They are illegal. The country's sovereignty and independence will no more be safe under their rule… The Awami League is a blood-thirsty party. It's nothing but a club of looters.”
304 DIED IN THREE MONTHS
Changing her earlier statement on the time-span of deaths of opposition men, Khaleda said 304 opposition men died and 65 became victims of forced disappearance between October 25 last year and January 25 this year.
The BNP chief in a press conference on February 4 said 302 leaders and activists of the 19-party alliance fell victim to killing and forced disappearance in one month (December 26 last year to January 27).
Khaleda had postponed her tour to the district thrice in last two years on different grounds. She said sorry for the postponement.
The 19-party alliance organised the rally. Hundreds of thousands of people thronged the rally venue from different parts of Rajbari and its adjacent districts since morning yesterday. Several lakh people gathered at the venue hours before Khaleda reached there around 3:45pm.
On her way to Rajbari, BNP men welcomed the former prime minister at different points setting up several hundred archways on roads, holding colourful banners, festoons, placards and posters in their hands and singing songs.
Khaleda offered Fateha at the grave of the party's former secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain in Manikganj.
Earlier, the BNP chief's motorcade left her Gulshan residence for Rajbari at 11:00am. Senior leaders of BNP and its front organisations accompanied her.
With her visit to Rajbari, Khaleda has started her organisational tour to districts as per suggestions of the BNP standing committee to rejuvenate the party grassroots that have been greatly demoralised by the opposition's boycott of the January 5 polls and the BNP's failure to foil the elections.