Khaleda Zia seeks army during polls with magistracy power

12 Nov 2017, 17:59 | updated: 12 Nov 2017, 23:23

Online Desk

Dhaka: Reiterating that no credible election can be held under current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Sunday demanded the deployment of army with magistracy power for holding the next national election in a free and fair manner.

The BNP chief also strongly opposed the use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the polls.

Speaking a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in the city, Khaleda Zia also called for forging a national unity for bringing qualitative changes in politics. The party arranged the rally marking what it said 'the civil-military uprising on November 7, 1975'.

"A free, fair and neutral election is possible under a non-party impartial government, not under Sheikh Hasina (PM). No election can be fair under Sheikh Hasina. They (govt) want to hold an election by force under them to cling to power," she said.

The BNP chief further said, "I want to tell the Chief Election Commissioner you don't pay heed to the government's any unjustified orders. I also want to tell the CEC and other Election Commissioners that holding a fair and neutral election is your responsibility. So, you talk in favour of a neutral government. The use of EVM must be stopped, and the army must be deployed with magistracy power so that they can patrol all election areas with mobile teams."

Khaleda Zia said police will also be there in the polls and her party has no objection to it. "But Sheikh Hasina's cadres have got arms in their hands with which they're now killing people regularly. If the army is not deployed, they'll capture all the polling stations. So, the army must be engaged and given power so that they can work."

The BNP chief said as people are waiting for a change in power and they will vote for her party if a credible election is held.

She urged the Prime Minister to hold the national election under a neutral polls-time government to know the actual popularity of her party. "We want to say you have been in power by force for a long time. So, now hold fair polls to know your party's position among people. "Try to understand people's pulses and what they want. They want a fair election under a neutral government."

Khaleda Zia once again assured that her party will not pursue vindictive politics if it returns to power. "But we want to purify you (AL). We'll launch a purge to do so as you've committed many misdeeds, including killing and enforced disappearance."

About the national unity, she said her party wants to bring qualitative changes in the country's politics. "A national unity is a must for it. We'll have to take the right decisions through discussions with all parties, including those are in power and those are out of it."

Khaleda Zia said her party wants to work for installing an effective and parliament which will be accountable to people and discuss their problems.

Turning to the Rohingya issue, she said it is now the country's biggest national problem. "Rohingya is not only a problem for the current illegal government. It's a national crisis. We must get united to find out a suitable solution to it."

The former prime minister urged the international organisations to take immediate steps so that Rohingyas can return to Myanmar with security ensuring their citizenship. "Rohingyas are not the citizens of Bangladesh. We've given them shelter on humanitarian ground. But they can't stay here for a long time. So, I call upon the international organisations to work out a quick solution to the problem."

She also called upon the influential countries, including the UK, Russia, China and India, to work together to find out an effective way to send back the Rohingyas to their own country.

Reffering to Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha's resignation, the BNP chief said he was forced to quit. "The Chief Justice was forced to leave the country by making him falsely sick. They now forced him to quit creating pressure on him sending their agency people abroad. He tried to return home, but he was barred as he spoke the truth," she alleged.

In her nearly one-hour speech, Zia criticised the government for the soaring prices of essentials, including rice and vegetables, widespread corruption, plundering of public money in the name of development, growing violence against women and children, and repression on her party men, growing unemployment rate and hike in the prices of utility services, including gas and power.

She alleged that ruling party men plundered thousands of crores of Taka from different sectors and siphoned off those aboard.

Referring to a Washington-based research organisation, she said Awami League leaders laundered 4.5 lakh crores of Taka over the last 10 years.

Khaleda Zia criticised the government for what she said obstructing her party men from joining the rally by stopping the plying of public transports.

She alleged that even the government put obstacles to her way to the rally by keeping buses haphazardly on a road at Gulshan, and creating traffic tailbacks. "The government has exposed its narrow mentality by doing so. One cannot do politics and ensure people's welfare with a mean mind."

Khaleda Zia said Awami does not want to allow BNP to hold any rally and the party creates obstacles to such programmes as it fears people. "But we don't fear people as they're our main strength."

She challenged the government to take steps to hold rallies of both BNP and Awami League on the same day in two separate venues to probe which party is the most popular.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, standing committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Moudud Ahmed, Jamiruddin Sircar, Mirza Abbas, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy and Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, among others, addressed the rally.

The rally formally began with the participation of huge party leaders and activists around 2pm through recitation from the holy Quran.

Huge law enforcers were deployed in and around the rally venue to avert any possible untoward incident.

The party, however, alleged that the government has stopped bus services from different adjacent districts to the capital in a planned way to prevent gathering of people in its rally at Suhrawardy Udyan.