BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia on Sunday night categorically said her party-led 18-party alliance did not retreat even an inch from their demand for holding the next general election under a non-party administration following the success of their candidates in the recent city polls.
“Though we’ve won the mayoral polls, we didn’t move even an inch from our demand (restoration of the caretaker government) and won’t do it either,” the BNP chief said.
While exchanging greetings with newly elected Barisal City Corporation mayor Ahasan Habib Kamal and councillors at her Gulshan office Khaleda also said, “Our position is very clear that no election was held fairly under the Awami League regime in the past and won’t it be in the future, too. So, the next polls must be held under a non-party neutral government and Awami League will have to accept it. They’ll be forced to accept it though an untied movement.”
Rejecting the government’s claim that the city polls were free and fair, Khaleda said, “Had the elections been free and fair, the ruling party-backed candidates would have lost their security money. We’re happy over the victory of our candidates, but not fully satisfied as the elections were not completely free and fair.”
The former premier also harshly criticised the incumbent Election Commission for its inaction against the ruling party leaders for violation of the election code of conduct.
Terming the present EC worthless and spineless, she said it is not capable of holding a fair and general election.
Khaleda also slammed the government for delaying the oath-taking ceremony of the newly-elected mayors and asked it to arrange the swearing-in programme for the mayors-elect without buying further time and let them to serve people.
Claiming that ruling party cadres and hardened criminals are taking positions in Gazipur, the BNP chief alleged that the government is making various evil designs to manipulate the Gazipur City Corporation polls slated for July 6.
Khaleda said the people of the country are now vexed with the misrule, misdeeds, corruption and repression by the government. “People now want a regime change. The results of the four city polls demonstrated the people’s desire for a change.”
She alleged that the Prime Minister spread lies in parliament. “She (Hasina) never tells the truth. She lied in a place like parliament yesterday. I couldn’t respond to her falsehood as I didn’t get chance. I’ll reply to those in time.”
Khaleda said she did not find anything new and any direction in the budget speech of the Prime Minister. “She replayed the broke cassette yesterday. I’ve asked her three questions but she didn’t reply to any.”
Earlier, a number of newly-elected Barisal City Corporation councillors, led by mayor-elect Kamal, presented Khaleda a bouquet.
Khaleda thanked Barisal city dwellers for what she said taking the right decision by electing opposition-backed mayoral runner Kamal.
She also asked the mayor and councillors to work for people sincerely and try to fulfill the promises they made before the city dwellers. “Don’t indulge in corruption and run after money like the people of Awami League. Do politics to serve people, not to make money.”
The BNP chief asked the party leaders and activists to prepare both for the final phase of the ongoing movement and the next general election.
Senior BNP leaders Altaf Hossain, Selima Rahman, Hafizuddin Ahmed, Barrister Shahjahan Omar, Mujibur Rahman Sarwar and Jubo Dal President Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal were, among others, present.