12:00 AM, December 27, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 27, 2012

No compromise on caretaker

Khaleda tells govt, addresses rallies across Dhaka, warns of more hartals if energy prices hiked

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Staff Correspondent


From a vehicle marked press, BNP chief Khaleda Zia speaks at a rally in Dholai Khal during the opposition's mass contact campaign in the capital yesterday. Photo: Palash Khan

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday said her party had no objection to the Awami League government's completing its tenure, but warned of tougher, non-stop movements if the Hasina administration does not restore the caretaker government system.

She called on the government to convene a special session of parliament for the passage of a bill for a non-party government system, which the government scrapped in June last year.

Addressing roadside rallies at different places in the capital as part of her mass contact programme, the former prime minister also threatened of calling more hartals and blockades should the government further hiked prices of electricity, gas and water.

Starting from Gabtoli around 11:00am she ended the daylong rally at about 6:45pm at Badda, where she promised to cancel all the agitation programmes if the caretaker system was brought back to the constitution to oversee general elections.

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday said her party had no objection to the Awami League government's completing its tenure, but warned of tougher, non-stop movements if the Hasina administration does not restore the caretaker government system.

She called on the government to convene a special session of parliament for the passage of a bill for a non-party government system, which the government scrapped in June last year.

Addressing roadside rallies at different places in the capital as part of her mass contact programme, the former prime minister also threatened of calling more hartals and blockades should the government further hiked prices of electricity, gas and water.

Starting from Gabtoli around 11:00am she ended the daylong rally at about 6:45pm at Badda, where she promised to cancel all the agitation programmes if the caretaker system was brought back to the constitution to oversee general elections.

"But movements will continue till the restoration of the caretaker government system."

Khaleda also bitterly criticised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her family members for "corruption" in the Padma bridge project, saying the government "is absolutely corrupt".

She alleged former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain was being protected to save some "big fishes." "If Abul is caught, the names of sister, son and son-in-law [of Hasina] would be exposed. That's why Abul's mouth has been gagged."

On war crimes trial, the BNP chief said her party wanted the trial but it must meet the international standard. "We'll identify the real war criminals and they might as well be tried if the BNP is voted to power. But the war criminals that are in the Awami League will be tried first."

Senior leaders of the BNP-led 18-party alliance held similar rallies in other cities of the country, including Chittagong, Sylhet and Khulna.

In Dhaka, thousands of leaders, workers and supporters attended Khaleda Zia's rallies at Gabtoli, Karwan Bazar, Jatrabari, Sabujbagh and Badda. In their hundreds, party activists on bikes escorted her car to the rally venues. Supporters were seen standing by the city streets in many areas, greeting her by chanting slogans as she passed.

Top leaders of the 18-party alliance were also present in all rallies. A large number of law enforcers were deployed at all rally venues and the routes Khaleda took to reach there.

Hundreds of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, workers and supporters taking part in the rallies chanted slogans demanding a halt to the activities of the International Crimes Tribunal.

At all rallies, Khaleda Zia focused mainly on caretaker system, alleged corruption in Padma bridge project and war crimes trial.

She also displayed some photos that showed Sheikh Hasina and some other leaders of the AL and its allies hold meetings with war crimes suspect and Jamaat leaders Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed.

Addressing a rally at Karwan Bazar, Khaleda branded Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir as razakar, saying Muhiuddin was loyal to the Pakistan government till the last moment of the Liberation War.

In Jatrabari, she said the home minister was sentenced to 17 years in jail during the caretaker government.

"Election must be held on time. The Awami League can complete its tenure. But it must pass a caretaker government bill in parliament. The Awami League will be made to meet our demand," she said and reiterated that her party would not accept an election held under the present administration.

"We can trust even a snake but not the Awami League.

"Prove your popularity by holding election under a neutral government. People will reject you and throw you out like a piece of torn cloth."

The BNP chairperson came down heavily on the Anti-Corruption Commission for "allowing corruption". "You are doing wrong. You will have to be accountable for this in future."

In Karwan Bazar, she said: "Why the Padma bridge project has not begun? Commission was taken in advance but the Anti-Corruption Commission did not find anything as it is loyal to the government."

Khaleda said the opposition parties resorted to street programmes to protest the misrule, looting and anarchies by the government. "The life of people has become unbearable and they want to get rid of this government."

She demanded the release of her party leaders, including acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and added the more than 7,000 cases that the government had withdrawn would be revived in future.

CLASH OVER SEAT

In Jatrabari rally, two groups of BNP activists fought over sitting on the front row yesterday afternoon, witnesses said.

Supporters of BNP leaders Nabiullah Nobi and Salauddin Ahmed scuffled with each other and threw chairs at each other before Khaleda reached the rally venue at Shahid Faruq Sarak.

The clash spread panic among the rally-goers but the situation calmed down when top BNP leaders intervened.

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