Khaleda won't budge from demand
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is still firm on the demand for a non-partisan government for holding a free and fair general election, according to some senior party leaders.
Following a statement of the BNP chief on Saturday, many were left with the impression that the party had shifted its stance on the caretaker government issue.
At a meeting with office bearers of Brahmanbaria District Bar Association at her Gulshan office, Khaleda said a caretaker government is not a must for holding national election. But it has to be held under a neutral government, no matter what its name is.
She also said no credible election was possible under the Awami League-led government.
The BNP-led 20-party alliance has been staging anti-government agitation since 2012 over the demand for national polls under a neutral government.
The alliance and several other political parties boycotted the January 5 parliamentary election last year, as the AL government didn't accept their demand for restoration of the caretaker government system.
On January 6, the BNP-led alliance launched a non-stop blockade and a series of hartals over the same demand.
But the ruling AL has been rigid on its stand that the election will be held in line with the constitution, meaning the polls will be held under the AL government.
Talking to The Daily Star, BNP Standing Committee Member Moudud Ahmed, who was present at Saturday's meeting, said, “The party chief's approach was different. But the substance of her statement remains the same which means the next parliamentary election must be held under a non-partisan government.
“As the government has been opposing the term -- caretaker government, she took a realistic approach and didn't use that term. Instead, she said the election-time government can be called by any name. We just want a free, fair and inclusive election,” said Moudud.
The BNP chief stated categorically that there would be no election under the AL government. The polls-time government must be comprised of non-political and neutral persons, and that is what the BNP chief wanted to mean in her statement, he added.
Asked, another BNP Standing Committee Member Mahbubur Rahman said the BNP chief, through her statement, invited the ruling party to hold discussions on how to hold a free and fair election, and it was definitely a positive initiative from her side.
“I believe the BNP chairperson wanted to mean that the party is not sticking to its demand for reinstating the 13th amendment to the constitution regarding caretaker government. Instead, she urged the Awami League government to decide on the formation of the election-time government through dialogue,” he added.