BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has urged the government to resolve the impasse over the holding of the next general election and ensure a smooth transition of power through “peaceful dialogue.”
“We do not want any conflict, as we think it is possible to find solutions [on how to hold the next general election] through an understanding,” Khaleda, also the leader of the opposition, said in her nearly two-hour-long speech in parliament yesterday.
Sounding a note of caution, she said the government had to pave the way for holding the next general election under a non-party and neutral government.
“I am sincerely urging the government to take initiatives for constituting a non-party and neutral polls-time government. I hope it will take the steps for the sake of the country and continuation of democracy,” she said.
It was the first time in the last four years that the opposition leader took part in budget discussions in the present parliament.
While the BNP chief was making demands for a non-party polls-time government, treasury bench lawmakers shouted “no” several times.
In response, a visibly irritated Khaleda said, “You [the government] will be compelled to pave the way for holding the next election under a neutral administration.”
“Our position is very clear about the polls-time government. We will not participate in any election under a partisan government since a level playing field cannot be ensured under such a government,” Khaleda said amid a thumping of desks by opposition lawmakers.
Since the ruling alliance has an absolute majority in parliament, it must take the initiative for amending the constitution to have a non-party polls-time government, she said.
Calling for “greater national unity”, she said, “Let us shun the politics of revenge and conflict, and turn our country into a land of peace. And a free and fair election is imperative to make it happen.
“There is no alternative to holding the next polls under a neutral government with the participation of all political parties in the interest of a continuation of democracy.”
She claimed that 90 percent people in the country were in favour of a non-party election-time government.
“Lack of confidence and mistrust” among political parties was the main problem in the country's politics, and no election would be acceptable as long as they prevailed, said Khaleda.
She also disputed the government claim that the next national polls under the present government would be free and fair, as the local elections had been held peacefully under this government.
Khaleda said the recent elections to the four city corporations were not absolutely free and fair. “Had the polls been free and fair, all your candidates would have lost their security money.”
GRAMEEN BANK ISSUE
The BNP chief slammed the government over its move to split Grameen Bank into 19 zones. “It is very unfortunate that a renowned person like Prof Muhammad Yunus is disrespected and defamed at home though he has been bringing honour for the nation.”
“We express our firm support for Dr Yunus and Grameen Bank.”
She said the nation would be “intellectually bankrupt” if respected persons were not given due honour.