The BNP chairperson’s adviser, ASM Hannan Shah, on Sunday demanded formation of a fresh election commission labelling the incumbent commission hostile to BNP.
‘This Election Commission has lost its neutrality… Hold the next election under a neutral election commission as the statements and actions of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners have proved that they are hostile to BNP and protecting the interests of a certain quarter’, Hannan Shah told a discussion organised by Dhaka city unit of the party marking the Independence Day at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh.
‘The chief election commissioner has said he does not want to be branded a “national traitor”. When he speaks so, I recall the statement of a leader in 1986 that “whoever will participate in elections under Ershad will be regarded as national traitors” but contested that polls the very next day,’ he said in an oblique reference to Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina.
Hannan Shah also slammed those who were preaching formation of a national government and asked the grassroots activists of the party to ‘gain in strength to get rid of the present situation’.
He castigated the government for indicting BNP joint secretary general Tarique Rahman, his wife Zubaida Rahman and mother-in-law Syeda Iqbalmand Banu on ‘false charges’.
He asked all young party activists in the city to be present on the court premises on the day the hearing in the case begins to demonstrate their support for Tarique. ‘The BNP will engage at least 500 attorneys to defend Tarique in the false case’, he said.
Chaired by city unit BNP vice-president Abu Sayeed Khan Khokan, the discussion was also addressed, among others, by joint secretaries general Selima Rahman and Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, organising secretary Mohammad Shahjahan, former adviser for commerce and energy Mahmudur Rahman, elderly party leader Shah Moazzem Hossain and leaders of the front organisations.
Gayeshwar asked the ‘most powerful people’ in the government to make clear their intention. ‘Make clear what you want… Speak out loud if you have any “hidden ambitions” and let the people know about that.’
‘Exit is not a problem at all if your intention is good. If you have “ambitions”, please, collect the notebook of Pervez Musharraf,’ he said. ‘Someone is saying he has no ambitions, but who asked him if he has any ambitions or not? Why make such announcements in advance?’
Mahmudur Rahman said the case against Khaleda Zia regarding Niko contract was not true at all. ‘I was given the charge of energy adviser 18 months after Niko deal was signed and after taking the charge I forced the company to pay Tk 700 crore. If Khaleda had been involved in Niko deal she would surely have prevented me from taking the action’, he said.
‘They [government] are talking too much and claiming that all the “powerful people” in the government are “clean”. But the fact is that each and everyone of them had been appointed by the BNP-Jamaat coalition government. Now they have turned “clean” while others remain “dirty”. I challenge every “Uddins” in this government they ranked much below me in terms of transparency’, he said.
Mahmud also denounced the government for ‘secretly’ signing the air-transit treaty with India and denigrating the parliament house by setting up ‘sub-jails’ and ‘kangaroo courts’ there.
Most of the top city BNP leaders, including its president Sadeque Hossain Khoka and general secretary Abdus Salam, were not present at the discussion.
When asked why he did not attend the discussion, Khoka told E-Bangladesh, ‘I was not aware of the meeting’.