Ruling Awami League and BNP today traded blame over the incidents of torching nine buses at different places in Dhaka on Thursday night.
At least nine buses were torched in different parts of the capital within the span of a few hours yesterday, which police suspect was part of a plot to carry out subversive activities. No casualty was reported in any of the incidents.
Speaking at a press conference at AL President Sheikh Hasina's political office in the city's Dhanmondi, the party's General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said BNP has set fire to several buses in the capital.
"Even during the ongoing humanitarian crisis of the global coronavirus pandemic, they [BNP] have continued their destructive activities. Awami League, along with the people, is ready to give a fitting reply to all their terrorist activities."
Referring to the incident of setting fire to the buses, the minister said, "People have repeatedly rejected them because of their destructive activities and such terrorist behaviour. It is their old habit to try to gain petty political interest by establishing a reign of terror at the cost of people's lives and properties."
Thanking all concerned for holding the by-elections in Dhaka-18 and Sirajganj-1 in a peaceful manner, Quader said it is BNP's old habit to blame the government and the election commission when they were rejected by people in elections.
Responding to a question, Quader said, "Give me an example of vote rigging in the two by-elections. When will they give up the politics of this blatant lie? And as long as they don't, they will become irrelevant to the people of Bangladesh."
In contrast, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a press meet at the Dhaka Reporter's Unity alleged that bus torching incidents in the capital were "acts of government's agents."
"I want to say clearly BNP does not do politics of destruction. From our past experience, agents of the government committed such sabotages," he said.
He also alleged that such acts were carried out to malign BNP. Fakhrul said what happened on Thursday was a heinous act.
"I harshly condemned it. We do politics of peaceful and systematic movement. These types of incidents took place when there is no democratic space in the country."
He said when the right to processions and rallies was denied, miscreants take advantage to commit sabotage.
When asked whether Khaleda Zia is active in politics, Fakhrul said, "We think that she is mentally active. She is always in our minds. Khaleda Zia did not leave politics and will not leave it."
Responding to a query, Fakhrul said the party is now running under joint leadership.
"Our leader [Khaleda Zia] was behind bars for more than two years. Our acting chairman is out of the country. Even in these trying times our unity remains strong. Our party is run under joint leadership."
He said the meeting of the party's standing committee is held every Saturday and decisions are taken there.
Later, at a press briefing at the party chairperson's Gulshan office, Fakhrul announced demonstration programmes for Saturday and Sunday protesting the arrest of the party's leaders and activists in connection with false cases and demanding cancellation of Dhaka-18 and Sirajganj-1 by polls.
The party will stage the demonstration in front of the national press club on Saturday and all district headquarters on Sunday.