Release Khaleda, create level playing field for polls
Demand Oikyafront leaders at Rajshahi rally
Leaders of Jatiya Oikyafront on Friday called for a street agitation to realize their demands.
They also said the polls schedule would not be acceptable to people without BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's release from jail.
"Release our all political prisoners and create a level-playing field otherwise the upcoming general election will not be meaningful," Fakhrul said.
They made the comments while speaking at a public rally at Rajshahi Madrasa Maidan.
The rally was organised by Oikyafront to mobilize public support in favour of the alliance's seven-point demand to hold the 11th parliamentary elections in a fair and credible manner.
Addressing the rally as the Chief Guest, BNP Secretary General Mirza
Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the demands of Jatiya Oikyfront will have to be met through launching a street agitation.
"You have joined today's rally braving many obstacles. You have come here for democracy. The crisis has now deepened more," he said.
The BNP leader said, "Now the most important question is whether democracy will exist or not. The question is whether our rights to speak and vote will exist or not."
Referring to Oikyafront's recently held dialogue with the ruling camp, Fakhrul said, "We sat with them for the freedom of Bangladesh. We asked them to dissolve parliament and release Khaleda Zia. But they didn't pay any heed to our demands."
He trashed the election schedule and said it will not be accepted unless political prisoners including Khaleda Zia are released.
Jatiya Oikyafront was formed in line with the directive of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia to restore democracy in the country and to ensure people's rights to vote, he said.
Fakhrul also criticised the government for taking back the detained BNP Chairperson to jail from hospital.
Front's Chief Leader and Gano Forum President Kamal Hossain did not attend the rally due to illness but gave a speech over mobile phone.
He said, the Election Commission announced the schedule for the next general election in a hurry to snatch people's voting rights.
"The Chief Election Commission has declared poll schedule ignoring opposition demands. It is absolutely anti-democratic and anti-people move of the commission," Dr Kamal said.
We condemned the Election Commission' decision, he said.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) President ASM Abdur Rab said there would be no elections in the country if the government did not meet the demands of Oikyafront.
"We want to contest in national elections. Don't instigate us," he added.
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Oli Ahmed said there is no other option left than taking to the streets to free Khaleda Zia from jail.
Addressing the rally, Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna blasted the Election Commission for hurriedly announcing the schedule for the 11th parliamentary election.
Criticizing the government for imposing embargo on the movement of vehicles in Rajshahi area, he alleged that many leaders and activists were arrested on way to the rally venue and many of them were harassed by the law enforcement agencies centring the rally.
Krishak Sramik Janata League President Kader Siddiki, BNP Standing Committee members Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Barrister Moudud Ahmed, Mirza Abbas, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, Gano Forum's Mostafa Mohsin Montu and Subrata Chowdhury, among others, addressed the rally while BNP Chairperson's Adviser Mizanur Rahman Minu presided over the programme.
The Front's seven-point demand includes installation of a neutral interim government, dissolution of parliament, reconstitution of the Election Commission, release of all the political prisoners, deployment of army and cancellation of the move to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMS) for holding the next polls in fair and acceptable manner.
The rally activities formally started around 2:00pm with the recitation from the holy Quran and holy Gita.
Several thousand leaders and activists of the BNP holding placards, banners and portraits of its founder Ziaur Rahman, Chairperson Khaleda Zia and Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman started gathering at the rally venue since 11:00am.
They were chanting various slogans demanding Khaleda's release from jail.