BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday categorically said her party would contest the national elections, but the polls must be held under an interim non-partisan administration.
“BNP is a pro-election political party. We will contest the election even if you [government] want to keep us out of it. We will contest the polls and you must make arrangements to that end,” Khaleda told a programme at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB).
There has been uncertainty in and outside the party as BNP boycotted the last parliamentary polls demanding election under a non-partisan caretaker administration.
However, the government is yet to meet the demand. In addition, Khaleda has been facing corruption charges and the trial is at the final stage.
BNP leaders repeatedly alleged that “false, fabricated and politically motivated” cases were filed against her to keep her away from the next national polls.
The programme at IEB did not begin well for the former premier after she was forced to stay in front of the institute for nearly one hour.
Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), a pro-BNP student body, was scheduled to hold a programme there at 2:00pm to mark its 39th founding anniversary. Khaleda, a former prime minister, was supposed to join the programme as the chief guest.
But, JCD activists found the gate of the institution locked at 10:00am with police on guard.
As they tried to approach the institute authorities to know the reason, law enforcers said the authorities had taken the steps “for the safety and security of the president”.
President Md Abdul Hamid had joined a programme in the Supreme Court located next to the institution.
Later in the afternoon, several hundred activists of JCD took position in front of the main entrance of IEB and staged demonstrations to press home their demand for opening the gate.
Khaleda joined the agitating JCD men at 4:25pm and stayed there sitting in her car until 5:20pm when the authorities opened the gate.
Addressing the programme, the former premier alleged that the Sheikh Hasina-led government did not come to power with people's mandate and said her party would not join the elections if it is held under the AL government.
“As the government is not elected through peoples' vote, election would not be held under them. Parliament should be dissolved,” she said.
Referring to wholesale arrest of BNP leaders and activists, the former premier said, “By repressing our leaders and activists, holding of another farcical election like January 5 would not be allowed in the country anymore. This time the election will be an inclusive one.”
Saying that people want a change, Khaleda added that the election should be held under a non-partisan neutral administration to bring that change.
“Why it is required? It is because fair election was never held under Hasina and will never be held in future,” she added.
Regarding the Padma Bridge, Khaleda said it will not be completed during the tenure of the Awami League government. “The bridge will be risky one,” she said, urging people not to use it.
Alleging that the Awami League is a more repressive state than than the Pakistani, Khaleda said, “The government has turned Bangladesh into a prison. Here, only Sheikh Hasina and Awami League are free.”
The former premier alleged that there is no democracy in the country as it is being governed by the will of one person.
“We want to say, the country cannot be run on the will of one person. People of the country did not fight the liberation war for that.”
Khaleda alleged that former chief justice Sk Sinha was forced to resign from the office. “But till now, [no new] chief justice was not appointed. Their (government) intention does not seem good. Mr Moudud said that post cannot be kept vacant for a single day.”