Responding to the Jatiya Oikyafront's call, Prime Minister and also Awami League President Sheikh Hasina yesterday formally invited the alliance to take part in talks with her party at the Gono Bhaban tomorrow.
AL Office Secretary Abdus Sobhan Golap yesterday handed over a letter signed by Hasina to Oikyafront leader Dr Kamal Hossain at the latter's Bailey Road residence.
“Thank you for your letter dated October 28, 2018. My door is always open for discussion on all constitutional issues for the continuation of democracy earned through immense struggles and sacrifices. So, I invite you [Oikyafront leaders] to the Gono Bhaban at 7:00pm on November 1 as you have sought time for talks,” PM wrote.
In another development, Hasina will hold talks with Bikalpadhara Bangladesh at the Gono Bhaban around 7:30pm on Friday. The party yesterday sent a letter to Hasina seeking a dialogue with the AL.
AL Publicity Affairs Secretary Hasan Mahmud and Cultural Affairs Secretary Asim Kumar Ukil went to Bikalpadhara President Prof AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury's residence with the PM's invitation letter, AL sources said.
On Sunday, Dr Kamal wrote to Hasina, urging her to take an initiative for talks between the alliance and the ruling party. The issue was discussed at Monday's cabinet meeting. The PM expressed her willingness to sit with the Oikyafront leaders.
In a letter to AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader, Gonoforum General Secretary Mustafa Mohsin Montu yesterday sent the names of the 16-member delegation to be led by Dr Kamal.
Of them, five are from the BNP. They are party's Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and standing committee members -- Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, barrister Moudud Ahmed, Mirza Abbas and barrister Jamiruddin Sircar.
Other members are Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) President ASM Abdur Rab and its General Secretary Abdul Malek Ratan and Vice-president Tania Rab; Gonoforum General Secretary Mustafa Mohsin and its Executive President Subrata Chowdhury; Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna and its adviser SM Akram; Jatiya Oikya Prokriya Member Secretary ABM Mostafa Amin and its member Sultan Muhammed Mansur Ahmad; and Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury.
On October 13, the BNP and four other parties -- Gonoforum led by Dr Kamal, JSD by Rab, Nagorik Oikya by Manna and Forward Party -- formed the Oikyafront.
Meanwhile, Obaidul, also road transport and bridges minister, yesterday said his party agreed to sit with the Oikyafront to continue the democratic and constitutional process, reports BSS.
“We will hold this discussion with an open mind,” Quader told a press conference at the ministry's conference room.
“We have trust in Dr Kamal Hossain though we are not sure whether he is the top leader of the Oikyafront or not. When we sit in discussion, it will be clear whether the alliance is being led from London or Bangladesh.
“We did not yield to pressure from anyone as the proposal for holding the dialogue did not come from us,” he said.
Of the Oikyafront's seven-point demand, he added, several are related to the constitution and some to the court and the Election Commission.
Quader said the Oikyafront talked about a level-playing field, which it was enjoying even now by holding meetings and rallies.
When the schedule for the general election will be announced, the EC will deal with the matter, he added.
Asked about AL's dialogue with the BNP, Quader said, “We aren't sitting with the BNP. We are holding a dialogue with the Oikyafront. But we didn't set any pre-condition whether BNP leaders would be in the discussion or not.”
About the polls-time government, he said it had no relations with the dialogue.
“The Election Commission will conduct the election, and the election-time government will cooperate with the commission. It is the jurisdiction of the prime minister to decide what will be the size of the polls-time government,” the minister added.
About his talks with Gonoforum General Secretary Mostafa Mohsin, he said different newspapers published reports that “We have proposed 10 names for the dialogue. It is not true. I asked Mostafa Mohsin Montu how many of them want to join the discussion. He said [the number] is 15. I told him if they want, even 20 to 25 persons can come.”
On the other hand, BNP Secretary General Fakhrul yesterday said people were doubtful about the dialogue outcome following the High Court verdict that extended Khaleda's sentence to 10 years from five years in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case.
“Jatiya Oikyafront will hold a meeting with the prime minister on Thursday. People will now realise how cordial the Awami League will be about the talks and how fruitful the talks will be,” he told journalists in an immediate reaction to the verdict at the party's Nayapaltan central office.
BIKALPADHARA HAILS TALKS DECISION
Welcoming Hasina's decision to hold talks with political parties, Bikalpadhara President Badruddoza yesterday sent a letter to her seeking dialogue with the AL, adds UNB.
Bikalpadhara Presidium Member Abdur Rouf and Organising Secretary Omar Farroque carried the letter to AL president's Dhanmondi office around 6:00pm, said Badruddoza's Press Secretary Jahangir Alam.
In the letter, Badruddoza said, “We're pleased that you've extended offer to engage in political dialogue to resolve the problems over the election. We, on behalf of Juktafront and Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, sincerely thank you.
“We'll be happy if you invite us to join dialogue with you at your convenient time. We believe it's possible to resolve all the problems through our will and cordiality.”
FAKHRUL MEETS KADER SIDDIQUE
Fakhrul last night held a meeting with Krishak Sramik Janata League President Kader Siddique at the latter's house in the capital's Mohammadpur.
The BNP leader urged Kader to join the Jatiya Oikyafront, said BNP sources.
Kader invited the Oikyafront leaders to dinner in his house today, said a BNP leader wishing anonymity.
Kader had earlier met Oikyafront leader Dr Kamal.