One hundred and eighteen former lawmakers elected with BNP ticket on Saturday demanded release of the detained BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, before the Independence and National Day.
They also demanded release of the party’s senior joint secretary general Tarique Rahman and his bother Arafat Rahman, and the Awami League president Sheikh Hasina to have proper treatment.
They also expressed concern at the skyrocketing price of essentials and called for creating a business-friendly environment free from state of emergency to curb price spiral and suggested distribution of VGD and VGF cards and open market sale of rice, pulse and flour.
They suggested initiating food for work and cash for work programmes in rural areas and distributing fair price card for the urban low-income group people, rationing for the factory workers and reopening all closed down factories to tackle the situation.
The former lawmakers demanded immediate announcement of the schedule of the election to the ninth parliament before holding any kind of local government polls at a press briefing held at flat of party secretary general, Khandaker Delwar Hossain, at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.
Party’s one of the joint secretaries general, Selima Rahman, placed a 10-point charter of demands in presence of some 30 former lawmakers and read out a statement of 118 lawmakers.
‘The 37th Independence Day will be observed in a time when Bangladesh is passing through extreme turning point. The parliamentary system of democracy was one of major expectations which led us to war of independence but the system is inactive and ineffective for past 14 months. The seats in the house are gathering dust and the bungalows for speaker and deputy speaker have tuned in sub jails,’ the statement read.
‘The single crime of Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina is that they are leading the two major political parties. They have been detained for false charge of corruption as they denied to go exile on the government’s will,’ the statement added.
‘Khaleda Zia’s two sons—Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman— are awaiting death in jail. They will not escape from the country if they are released on bail,’ the statement added.
‘We want Khaleda Zia and her family to be freed immediately. We hope the government will create a favourable atmosphere for elections by releasing the two leaders,’ said party organising secretary Mohammad Shahjahan.
Asked about whether they would go for elections keeping Khaleda behind bars, Shahjahan said, ‘It is not matter of joining or boycotting the polls, we would do whatever it takes for freeing Khaleda.’
‘It is clear that some super powers want to confront the people and the military in Bangladesh and Khaleda Zia is the only person who can resist such agenda,’ he said.
On unification of the party, Shahjahan said, ‘The matter is on court of Saifur Rahman and Hafizuddin Ahmed. Let us see what they do. The grassroots activists and leaders are with Khandaker Delwar Hossain.’
The party will send the chief adviser a memorandum on the release of their chairperson in a day or two, Shahjahan added.