Initiate talks for all-party polls
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday met President Abdul Hamid and urged him to take steps in reaching a consensus between the ruling and the opposition parties for holding a free, fair and participatory election under a non-party government.
A 20-member delegation of opposition leaders led by Khaleda called on the president at the Bangabhaban a day after eight new faces were inducted in the present cabinet on Monday to transform it into a polls-time government.
At the hour-long meeting, the leaders of the BNP-led alliance requested the president to take initiatives for holding a dialogue between the two rival camps.
The president assured them that "he will try [to act in this regard] within his constitutional powers," acting BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters outside the Bangabhaban after the meeting.
The president, who appointed the new ministers on the prime minister's advice, told the opposition leaders that he would convey their message to the government, said Fakhrul.
In a written statement to the president, the 18-party alliance said it would not join "the one-sided election" under the government led by Sheikh Hasina.
People would not accept such election, it read. Copies of the statement were later circulated among reporters.
The BNP chief went to her Gulshan office from Bangabhaban and asked the delegation members to meet her there to discuss the next course of action.
The BNP chief's motorcade arrived in front of the Bangabhaban at 5:45pm. Khaleda waited outside for half an hour, as she reached there early.
The president and his wife received Khaleda, as she got off her car at the Bangabhaban at 6:15pm. And the meeting began around 6:30pm.
Despite the latest developments, the possibility of consensus among the two rival camps still looks thin.
Several senior leaders of the Awami League-led alliance once again rejected the opposition's proposal for making a non-partisan person the chief of polls-time government.
"Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will head the polls-time government according to constitutional provisions. It is not possible for the government to ignore the constitution," AL presidium member Kazi Zafarullah told The Daily Star.
Echoing the same view, a newly-inducted minister said the opposition requested the president to take steps beyond the constitution.
"The opposition knows well that the president cannot take any move beyond the constitution to resolve the crisis. But they met the president to gain political mileage," said the minister on condition of anonymity.
AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said, "There can be no talks over any unconstitutional demands. There is no scope for implementing any such demand by the BNP. The election will be held in line with the constitution."
A senior BNP leader said he believes the government would not change its stance on election-time government.
"We met the president so that we can tell people that we even requested the president to resolve the political crisis," said the BNP leader, asking not to be named.
He said the opposition alliance will resume its agitation programmes like hartal and blockade next week.