Dr Kamal Hossain launched the campaign with the promise to stay in the election race till the end
Jatiya Oikya Front, the key opposition platform in the upcoming general election led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), kicked off its electoral campaign on Wednesday, by offering special prayers at the shrines of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) and Hazrat Shah Paran (R).
Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain, along with four other key leaders of the platform – Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rab) President ASM Abdur Rab, Krishak Sramik Janata League President Abdul Kader Siddique, BNP Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan, and Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury – offered fateha – special prayers – at the two shrines Wednesday afternoon before officially launching the campaign in favour of the “sheaf of paddy” – BNP’s electoral symbol.
“We have officially started our electoral campaign in Sylhet, with the blessings of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) and Hazrat Shah Paran (R),” Dr Kamal told reporters during a briefing afterwards. “We prayed for the 10-12 crore voters so they can freely exercise their democratic right to vote.”
He further assured that the Oikya Front would stay in the election race until the end – the voting day on December 30 – even though a level playing field for the general polls has yet to be ensured.
He also advised leaders and activists of the Oikya Front partners to remain active in the field.
Several thousand leaders and activists of the BNP and other Oikya Front partners started gathering at the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) from 1pm on Wednesday.
The five leaders, led by Dr Kamal Hossain, reached the shrine around 4:45pm, Ali Ahmed, secretary general of the BNP’s Sylhet district unit, told the Dhaka Tribune.
‘The people will win’
Pointing out that the formation of the Oikya Front had gained massive public support, Dr Kamal said: “We must give the power back to the people. We have to stay united so we can succeed in this election.”
In response to a question, Dr Kamal said the administration and the police are supposed to protect the citizens’ rights, not support the government’s “ill motives.”
Mentioning the Awami League and Jatiya Party, the BNP leader Nazrul Islam Khan said: “One dictator from the 80s has banded together with the current dictator. No matter how much they conspire to stay in power, we will re-establish the people’s rule through the election.”
Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury urged the leaders and activists to stay in the field. “There is no need to be afraid. People will win.”
Police disconnect mics
A team of the Sylhet Kotwali police station allegedly disconnected the sound system that had been set up for the electioneering outside the main entrance of the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal (R).
The local BNP leader Ali Ahmed said the police plugged off all the microphones and loudspeakers, and confiscated chairs and tables from the temporary stage that had been erected there.
When contacted in this regard, Kotwali police station OC Selim Miah said they had done so because the Oikya Front leaders had not taken permission for a rally beforehand.
Dr Kamal to file defamation lawsuit
The Gono Forum chief said he would file a defamation lawsuit against the authorities concerned for issuing a tax evasion notice against him.
He made the statement when asked about the notice issued by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) during the press briefing.
Dr Zafrullah said they were not “worried about the notice.” “It was done deliberately,” he added.
The Anti-Corruption Commission sent a letter to the NBR on November 19, inquiring if Dr Kamal had evaded tax.
During a press conference at the NBR headquarters in Segunbagicha, Dhaka on Sunday, NBR Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said they had made the move so the election remained beyond reproach.