“Learn from 1974 famine”: Fakhrul warns AL over price of essentials
"I'd like to tell Mr Obaidul Quader (Awami League general secretary) that you do not learn from history. I'd like him to recall (the famine of 1974). There was the famine at that time and the prices of food grains shot up." -- Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir
Cautioning over skyrocketing prices of daily essentials, BNP today suggested that the ruling Awami League learn from the famine in 1974 and come up with effective steps to ease public suffering.
"I'd like to tell Mr Obaidul Quader (Awami League general secretary) that you do not learn from history. I'd like him to recall (the famine of 1974). There was the famine at that time and the prices of food grains shot up," Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of BNP, said.
Addressing a discussion at Jatiya Press Club, the BNP leader said the prices of food grains are skyrocketing again and people are going through immense sufferings.
"At this time, you are not reading the writings on the walls and not taking the necessary initiatives. There is no point in saying all those contradictory things and making careless remarks," he said.
Asking the government to return to the democratic system and create a democratic atmosphere to avoid possible public wrath, Fakhrul said, "Let the people speak up and exercise their rights. Otherwise, you will have to face consequences. You are threatening us with terrible consequences, but you saw such consequences in the past."
Jatiya Ganatantrik Party organised the discussion to mark the 41st death anniversary of Ziaur Rahman and the 5th death anniversary of party founder Shafiul Alam Pradhan.
"They never talk about their rule from 1972-75… Hundreds of youths had to lose their lives at that time only for talking about democracy while there was widespread plundering… their failures led to a famine in 1974. They don't talk about these things," he said.
Referring to a book by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Fakhrul said according to the book, there were sufficient food grains in Bangladesh in 1974, but the then government could not create the kind of administration and structure needed to manage the food grains and deliver those to people and prevent starvation.
"The second reason was their greed, as they indulged in corruption, plundering and black marketing even during that crisis period," he added.
"We are witnessing the same thing now. The minister himself is admitting that syndicates are raising the prices of essentials and food grains. Why are you in the office when you can't control the syndicates and take action against the corrupt persons?" Fakhrul questioned.
Fakhrul said the government is arresting small wholesalers to stop hoarding of food and essential items, but the problem is not there.
"Newspapers have unveiled the actual problem – that rice prices are going up as major corporate houses are buying huge amounts of rice. It's never possible to do this without the government's help. That is why we have repeatedly said the prices of rice and commodities have gone up not only because of the government's maneuvering but also for its direct involvement (in the process)," he said.
He said BNP has started a process of forging unity among political parties to ensure "the fall of the AL government".
Fakhrul said their party wants all the left and right-leaning political parties to unite – to end the "misrule of the current regime" and restore democracy and people's lost rights.