BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Sunday said the ruling Awami League is desperate to win the next general elections by rigging the polls and depriving the people of their voting rights.
She also said it is never possible for the Election Commission to hold a free and fair election under Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The BNP chief was addressing a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka, marking what the party calls the “Civil-Military Uprising on November 7, 1975.”
A huge number of BNP leaders and activists from all over the country joined the rally that began at 2pm with recitation from the holy Quran. Law enforcers were deployed in and around the venue to prevent possible untoward situations centring on the gathering.
Khaleda in her hour-long address alleged: “People of the country witnessed how Awami League men rigged the previous elections. The ruling party does not trust the people, and therefore they try to steal votes to win elections… BNP does politics for the commoners. All we want is to make sure the people get back their voting rights.
“Holding the next elections under an impartial, neutral government is a must to ensure the people’s voting rights.”
Claiming that the masses have profound faith in the BNP, the former prime minister demanded the Election Commission deploy army with magisterial power at polling stations in order to hold the election in a free and inclusive manner.
Khaleda urged the communion not to use electronic voting machines (EVM) during the polls, as her party is apprehensive about the possible rigging of the election through EVM.
She said: “People want change. They are seeking relief from the Awami League’s rule. That is why the chief election commissioner will have to ensure their rights through a free and fair election.
Urging national unity, the BNP chairperson said: “In a democratic society, we may have different views, but at the same time we have to forge unity for the sake of the country and people. We have to work together for wellbeing of the people and also for the country’s development.”
On November 3, BNP announced to hold the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan on last Wednesday to mark the “Civil-Military Uprising on November 7, 1975.” It was later shifted to Saturday first and then Sunday for various reasons, including the conference for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Khaleda alleged: “Due to their political narrow-mindedness, the Awami League-led government earlier declined to give us permission to hold the rally. Even though the government later gave permission for the rally, it obstructed people from joining the gathering.
“The government stopped bus services [to and from Dhaka] to foil our programme and arrested many of our leaders and activists from different hotels in the city.”
She also accused the government of trying to impede her on her way to the rally venue.
‘Obstructing BNP men on their way’
BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, too, raised similar allegations against “the government’s move to bar BNP men from arriving in Dhaka.”
“The government stopped mass transport in a planned way so that BNP leaders and activists and common people cannot join our rally. They obstructed long-distance buses. Even, train services to and from the capital were also disrupted,” he said.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Standing Committee Members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Moudud Ahmed, Jamiruddin Sircar, Rafiqul Islam Mia, Mirza Abbas, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury and Abdul Moyeen Khan, among others, addressed the nearly four-hour-long rally.
The others who delivered speeches included Vice-Chairmen Hafizuddin Ahmed, Abdullah Al Noman, Shahjahan Omar, Barkatullah Bulu, Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, AZM Jahid Hossain, Ahjmed Azam Khan, Zainul Abedin Farroque, and Shawkat Mahmud.