Dr Kamal Hossain found no specific solution in prime minister's speech. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said his party was not satisfied with how the talks went. JSD President ASM Abdur Rab said their movement would continue to realise their seven-point demand. And Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said they would not go beyond the constitution.
This is how the AL and the Jatiya Oikyafront leaders reacted after the three and a half hours of talks at the Gono Bhaban last night.
After the talks that began at 7:00pm, AL leaders assured the opposition alliance of holding further talks to find a solution to the political crisis over the upcoming national election. But Oikyafront leaders said chances of more talks were slim.
Kamal Hossain, also president of Gono Forum, gave an introductory speech at the beginning.
Later, Fakhrul presented their seven-point demand including, formation of a neutral election-time government, dissolution of parliament before the polls schedule is announced, reconstitution of the Election Commission and deployment of army with magistracy power during the election.
During the meeting, Kamal said there were many constitutional ways to ensure a participatory election, resolving the existing political crisis. But the ruling alliance said there were no such ways, sources said, requesting anonymity.
Although the talks were held in a congenial atmosphere, the PM gave no assurance that the government would meet the Oikyafront's demand.
Briefing reporters at the Gono Bhaban after the talks, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader made it clear that they could not go beyond the constitution.
But he said the PM assured the Oikyafront leaders that the next national election would be held in a free, fair and neutral manner.
His BNP counterpart Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir expressed dissatisfaction.
He, however, told reporters at the Gono Bhaban that the PM assured them of further discussions.
"There were discussions on various issues. The prime minister said they will sit again. I, on behalf of my party, can say we're not satisfied with today's discussion,” he said, reports UNB.
Around half an hour after the meeting, Kamal told reporters at his Bailey Road residence, “The prime minister gave a long speech. But we didn't find any specific solution there, except for some positive comments about holding rallies and meetings.”
He said they placed their seven-point demand before the PM. “She'll inform us about her final decision later.”
Gono Forum Executive President Subrata Chowdhury read out a written statement at the briefing.
Citing the PM, he said there would be no restrictions on holding any rallies.
“Political parties can hold rallies wherever they want and law enforcers will cooperate. The prime minister said she has already given directives to law enforcers in this regard.”
Oikyafront leaders also raised the issue of “fictitious” cases filed against political leaders and activists and their mass arrest, he said.
Talking to reporters at Kamal's house, Fakhrul said they would continue their street programmes, adding, “Is it possible to achieve everything all the time?”
At the same briefing, Abdur Rab said it was now up to the government to meet their demands. “Our movement to realise the demands will continue.”
He added: “Can you get everything in a day?”
Earlier at the Gono Bhaban briefing, Obaidul Quader said the PM told the delegation that the Election Commission was tasked with holding the election neutrally, and the government would help the Commission to do so.
"There's no reason for fear and apprehension," Quader said, adding that they had a good and open discussion. "There was a conducive environment and the dialogue will continue."
On the Oikyafront's demand for deployment of foreign election observers, the PM said the government had no objection to it, Quader added.
About political cases against opposition leaders and activists, he said the PM would look into it if the list of political cases was sent to her.
"We can't go beyond the constitution," he quoted the PM as telling during the talks.
About the cases against BNP chief Khaleda Zia, Quader, quoting the PM, said it was a legal issue, and not an issue that can be resolved through talks.
The PM also said that these cases were filed during the caretaker government tenure, and not during her tenure, said Quader.
At her introductory speech, Hasina urged the opposition alliance leaders to judge her struggle for the country's overall development and continuation of democracy.
"I can say we're working for the country's overall development and maintaining democracy after a long struggle. I'll leave it to you to judge it. You'll certainly consider how much development the country witnessed in the last nine years and 10 months. I can say Bangladesh's general people are now having good days as their fate has changed. The trend of change we introduced is on," she said, reports UNB.
As the 20-member Oikyafront delegation reached the Gono Bhaban around 7:00pm, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader welcomed them and took them to the meeting room. The PM welcomed them there.
Before the dialogue formally opened, Hasina gave an introductory speech where she mentioned that the country belonged to all and that the trend of change they introduced should be taken forward.
She said their main aim was to change the fate of the people, take the country forward and ensure its overall development. The AL chief said they were working to take the fruits of independence to every doorstep.
The PM led a 23-member delegation while Kamal a 20-member team in the discussion, focused on reaching a consensus over holding the next general election in a fair, credible and inclusive manner.
The other AL leaders are Obaidul Quader, Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Matia Chowdhury, Fazlul Karim Selim, Mohammad Nasim, Abdur Razzak, Kazi Zafar Ullah, Abdul Matin Khosru, Ramesh Chandra Sen, Advocate Anisul Huq, Mahbubul Alam Hanif, Dipu Moni, Jahangir Kabir Nanonk, Abdur Rahman, Abdus Sobhan Golap, Hasan Mahmud and SM Rezaul Karim.
The four 14-party leaders are Samyabadi Dal leader Dilip Barua, leader of Workers Party of Bangladesh, Rashed Khan Menon, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal leader (JSD) Hasanul Huq Inu and JSD-faction leader Mainuddin Khan Badal.
Other Oikyafront leaders joining the talks are BNP leaders Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Moudud Ahmed, Jamiruddin Sircar, Mirza Abbas, Dr Abdul Moyeem Khan and JSD leaders ASM Abdur Rob, Tania Rob and Abdul Malek Ratan, Nagorik Oikya leaders Mahmudur Rahman Manna and SM Akarm, Gono Forum leaders Mostafa Mohsin Montu, Subrata Chowdhury, Mokabbir Khan, Jaglul Haider Afrik and AHM Shafiq Ullah, Jatiya Oikya Prokriya's Sultan Mohammad Mansur Ahmed and ABM Mostafa Amin and Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury.
The PM invited the Oikyafront leaders to her official residence for talks after Kamal, also president of Gonoforum, wrote to the PM requesting her to hold a dialogue.
Later, many other political parties wrote to the PM seeking time for talks. Hasina responded positively to those as well.
The PM will hold talks with Bikalpadhara Bangladesh today and with HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party on Monday. She will also hold a meeting with the Left Democratic Alliance.