While the BNP sticks to its demand for holding the next national elections under a non-partisan polls-time government, the ruling Awami League insists the elections will be conducted as per constitutional provisions.
The AL presumes that the BNP might take to the streets and carry out destructive activities to press home its demand. Some AL leaders said the government would put down any such activities with an iron hand.
The BNP, however, has reiterated its call for holding a dialogue on the election-time government to reach a consensus on the issue.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia at a rally in the city's Suhrawardy Udyan on Sunday categorically said fair elections were not possible under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also the AL president.
She demanded deployment of army with magistracy power during the elections to maintain law and order and ensure free, fair and credible polls.
Sources in the AL said the party was planning to counter the BNP's rally by ensuring a bigger participation of people at its programme at the same venue on Saturday.
The Daily Star yesterday talked to some AL and BNP leaders to know their opinions about holding the next parliamentary elections.
AL presidium member Abdur Razzak said the BNP chief's demand for an election-time non-partisan government was not acceptable as it was a settled issue. The national polls would be held as per constitutional provisions, he added.
“The Election Commission will conduct the polls and the government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will provide necessary assistance to it.”
Razzak said if the BNP take to the streets to fulfill its demand, the government and the AL would face the situation politically. “We'll not allow anyone to get involved in destructive activities as ensuring political stability in the country is a key responsibility of the government. The government will do everything to ensure it.”
He also said the BNP's demand for deployment of army was unacceptable. The AL leader said he found nothing new in Khaleda's speech.
AL Organising Secretary AKM Enamul Haque Shamim said the BNP chief made some “illogical demands” which could not be met.
He said the government would not allow the BNP to indulge in destructive politics and it would do everything to make sure that the country's democratic process continues.
BNP HOLDS FIRM ON DEMAND
Senior BNP leaders said the party didn't back down from its demand for a non-partisan supportive-government.
They said there might be some confusion about the concept of election-time supportive government, but the party chief on Sunday made it clear that fair elections were not possible under a partisan government.
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said, “There was a little confusion over the name of the polls-time supportive government and that we will participate in the elections under a political government. But madam [Khaleda Zia] has cleared all the confusions.”
He said national elections should not be held under a political government, but under a non-political government. “Whatever you call it, an interim government, election-time supportive government or anything else, the issue is that a political government can't be in office during the polls.”
The polls are conducted by the Election Commission, but it cannot work without interference from a political government, he told The Daily Star.
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of BNP, said there was no room for confusion over the polls-time government as there was no difference between an election-time supportive government and election-time neutral government.
“We have never said that we will participate in national elections under the incumbent prime minister. We can consider a number of options on the polls-time government. Our chairperson has called for talks. We believe a solution can be found through dialogues. So holding talks is a must.”
He said his party would come up with an election-time government formula on time.
Following a long political turmoil, a non-partisan polls-time caretaker government system was introduced in the country in 1996. But the constitutional provisions for the system were scrapped by parliament in 2011 during the then AL-led government.
As the government refused to budge on the BNP's demand for restoration of the caretaker government system, the BNP-led 14 party alliance boycotted the 10th parliamentary elections in January 2014.
According to the current constitutional provisions, the incumbent government, led by Hasina, will be in power during the next national elections scheduled for late next year.