BNP Standing Committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy has said his party will wage a movement if the government doesn’t meet their demands for holding a free and fair general election and release of their party chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail.
“BNP will go for a movement if the government doesn’t meet our demands for holding a free and fair general election and release of our party chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail,” he told the daily sun in a recent interview.“Moreover, the government will have to remove all obstacles on the way to holding a fair election. Parliamentary seats will have to be declared vacant. The current parliament will have to be dissolved before announcement of polls schedule and incumbent government will have to resign before polls,” the BNP leader said.
He opined that an election-time cabinet might be formed in short format with non- partisan, experienced and responsible persons having strong personality.
“If all political parties come to a consensus then the constitution might have to be changed. In that case, election will be held on the basis of consensus of all, which was happened in 1991.” The BNP leader further said army will have to be deployed for 15 to 30 days during election as people is doubtful about police role.
“General people have faith in army. Army will have to be deployed during polls giving power. Army may take any decision in case of any irregularity. Army cannot work under civil administration, magistrate and police.”
He said the current Election Commission (EC) will have to be reconstituted on the basis of opinions of all. It has already ‘failed’ to prove its competence and neutrality while performing duty.
“EC is subservient to the government and works as per government directive. People have no faith on this Election Commission. It is a controversial one,” he stated.He also demanded that all of the party leaders and activists, including Khaleda Zia, who are imprisoned on ‘political ground’ must have to be released from jail.
“The government will have to leave the habit of carrying out arrest drive and filing of ‘false cases.’ It can arrest no political activist after announcement of polls schedule. If these conditions are fulfilled then the worry about polls will be removed. Otherwise, no fair election is possible under this government. Now it is up to the government whether it will consider the conditions or not,” Gayeshwar asked.
About holding next national polls as per current constitutional provision, he termed it to be a big ‘crisis.’ Ruling Awami League wants to avail of all ‘privileges’ such as parliament will remain intact, they will remain in power, and then the election will be held.
“The constitution does not state that people cannot cast their vote, their voting right will be snatched away, ballot boxes will be staffed and polling agents of opponent parties will be driven away. It is also not mentioned in RPO of the EC that it will remain blind to irregularities,” he maintained.
“Every political party has its own decision about participation in election. The parties have right to join or boycott polls. But, people are in fear whether they can cast their votes or not,” he said.
The BNP policymaker claimed that BNP, Jukto Front and Kamal Hossain’s National Unity Process also demand for holding elections in a free, fair and neutral manner. “People from all walks of life are also demanding the same,” he said.
”None expressed different opinion. Other political parties outside BNP and 20-party alliance may not want release of Khaleda Zia, but should want release of political prisoners,” he mentioned.
When asked about BNP’s minimum condition for joining polls, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy said that they are placing the pre-conditions for holding a fair election. But, it is the decision of the government to accept or reject the demands.
“Either people will realise their demands or the government itself will voluntarily remove the stalemate by giving back people’s voting rights and arrange fair polls with the participation of all political parties by creating a congenial atmosphere through discussions with other political parties,” he said unequivocally.
Responding to a query whether BNP will give proposals to the government for dialogue, the party’s standing committee member said opposition never gives formal proposal to the ruling party for discussion, but the opposition parties are already telling the government for sitting in discussion. “The government itself has to give a formal proposal. It will have to take an initiative in this regard by calling parties to sit for talks. The ruling party leaders, including the prime minister, are always telling that there is no need for talks with BNP. Then, how shall we give them formal proposal?” he posed a question.
When asked if BNP will seek an intervention of the United Nations for holding fair polls, Gayeshwar said: “The United Nations can take an initiative in this regard. If the democratic world wants to retain the healthy trend of democracy in Bangladesh then they can take an initiative in this regard. We shall welcome the initiative. If the UN wants to take an initiative in this regard then we shall cooperate with them.”
“At first, we’ll strive for fulfilling our demands then we’ll make the next move. At present, the government says ‘no’ to our demands, but it may tell ‘yes’ in the long run. Let’s see what happens. We know how to compel the government to tell ‘yes’ to our demands,” he asserted. When asked if BNP will wage a movement for fulfilling its demands, Gayeshwar said the country was not liberated without movement and no demand was fulfilled without movement. “It is not possible to tell the exact date and time of the movement. This is because, we don’t want any confrontation with the government. If the government compels us then we will go for a movement. Although the movement will be carried in a democratic way, but the government won’t allow us to do so. The government will try to suppress the movement by using muscle power. As soon as they use the muscle power to suppress the movement, a confrontation will be created logically. Then people will be compelled to face the situation from their respective position,” he said.
Regarding BNP’s ability to wage a strong movement for realising their demands, the BNP senior leader said if the movement is planned for BNP then the matter of its capacity may come under consideration, but if the demands are of people then it won’t depend on BNP’s capacity to wage the movement. “In this perspective it doesn’t matter whether any political party has the required capacity, but the fact is that we must judge if the demands are of common people.” When asked if Jukto Front and other parties will join the BNP’s movement, he said: “Of course, they will join the movement. The movement may be waged at different orbit and may also be forged together.”
About progress in their initiative to forge a ‘national unity’, he said: “The national unity may be forged through various ways. A national unity was forged from the political parties’ respective platforms during anti-Ershad movement. A simultaneous movement was waged during that period. Situation and atmosphere will say what will happen. If all political parties’ target remains same then I think no condition will be required to this end.”
In reply to a query about BNP’s joining the 11th parliamentary polls if BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia is not released from jail before polls, Gayeshwar said Khaleda Zia’s release is unconditional and it has no relationship with the party’s joining the election. “What is the guarantee of holding a fair poll in case Khaleda Zia is released? If a guarantee is ensured for holding a fair election then we’ll take a decision in this regard,” he stated.
Responding to a question about their expectation from India on Bangladesh’s general elections, the BNP leader alleged that the then Indian government ‘nakedly interfered’ in the 10th parliamentary election that was held on January 5, 2014. He hoped that being the biggest democratic country of the world, this time, India will keep the matter under their consideration. “India must think that Bangladesh does not like it.” “If India retains its previous stance then Bangladesh-India friendly relationship will not exist. India may maintain relationship with any individual, but it should not make relationship with any particular political party of a country,” he said. The BNP policymaker said Bangladesh-India relationship should reflect the expectations of the people of both the countries.
“We hope that India would weigh the expectations of the people of Bangladesh from their own scale. We hope that they would play a responsible role during upcoming parliamentary elections of Bangladesh.”