Awami League’s Syed Ashraful Islam calls in the middle of BNP spokesperson Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir’s press conference at Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office on Monday.
In a rapidly unfolding drama, politics in Bangladesh took a sharp turn for the better with both bickering parties making moves to talk and settle the dispute over the polls-time administration.
BNP’s stand-in Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir received a phone call from his Awami League counterpart as he began addressing his hurriedly-called press conference Tuesday morning and was heard responding to the minister with dozens of reporters watching and TV stations streaming the historic moment live.
The minister acknowledged the receipt of the BNP letter and thanked him.
Mirza Fakhrul was heard saying now it was AL’s turn to make a move as the opposition has responded to the PM’s call. “We hope you will take it seriously and begin talks,” he was heard telling Ashraful.
The Prime Minister on Friday asked the Opposition to name MPs for inclusion in a polls-time interim cabinet.
“He just told me that he was going to Dinajpur with the Prime Minister and carrying the letter with him,” Alamgir said of his brief conversation with the AL General Secretary.
Roughly half an hour earlier, a team of senior BNP leaders carrying a letter from the BNP spokesperson had gone to Syed Ashraful Islam’s.
Acting BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir starts speaking at the press conference on Monday
BNP spokesperson Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir reacts after his Awami League counterpart Syed Ashraful Islam’s call
Top BNP leaders told bdnews24.com’s Chief Political Correspondent Sumon Mahmud at around 11am Tuesday that Joint Secretary General Barkatullah Bulu was leading the team with a one-page letter from Mirza Fakhrul.
“The letter contains an attachment of the latest BNP proposals (made public on Monday at a press conference by Khaleda Zia) on the polls-time administration,” one standing committee member told Mahmud.
The BNP move came in response to the Prime Minister’s offer in a televised address on Friday to include opposition MPs in an interim government to oversee the elections due within the next three months.
Once the BNP team left for the minister’s home, the acting BNP Secretary General began speaking at the press conference at 11:30am.
Mirza Fakhrul had begun the news conference with his usual jibe at the government.
He condemned how police arrested Sultan Salauddin Tuku, BNP’s Student Affairs Secretary, by ‘attacking a microbus’ on the BNP Chairperson’s motorcade Monday night.
He claimed police’s behaviour just hours after the opposition chief made her polls-time government proposal showed the government did not want a solution to the political bickering.
He urged the authorities to lift the ban on meeting and rallies saying, “We want to hold a peaceful rally in front of our party headquarters at Naya Paltan. Do not jeopardise the rally we scheduled for Oct 25.”
The BNP leader was approached by his personal secretary, bearing a phone, at one point of the live press conference. Mirza Fakhrul in the presence of news cameras and journalists stopped midway.
He took the phone and in an affectionate tone said, “Assalamualaikum brother.”
The conversation between the two lasted for roughly a few minutes.
Fakhrul was heard saying, “Yes, I am all right. How are you doing? Yes, yes. Yes, thank you very much.”
“We hope you take this seriously and start the discussion,” said Fakhrul to Ashraf. “We have reached out. Do come forward as well.”
“Thank you,” he concluded.
By then, journalists and others present at the BNP Chairperson’s Gulshan office realised it was the Awami League General Secretary on the other side.
Mirza Fakhrul ended the conversation with a smile and told those present, “I’m done”.
The call, however, altered the track of the news conference.
Mirza Fakhrul hoped the government will positively respond to the letter and play a ‘positive’ role in ending conflicts and forming a polls-time government.
Barkatullah Bulu earlier had read out the letter at Syed Ashraf’s residence on Mintu Road while Mirza Fakhrul’s news conference continued in Gulshan.
After handing the letter, the Joint Secretary General came out and read the letter’s contents for waiting journalists.
‘BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in a press conference on Oct 21 in her efforts to clear the crisis ahead of the national parliamentary election has proposed an interim government to the honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. I am sending you the proposal.”
“You are earnestly requested to take necessary measures to start a discussion over this matter immediately,” the letter said.
The Awami League has called a news conference at party President’s Dhanmondi office at 11am Wednesday where it is expected to respond to BNP’s proposal.
Source: Bd news24