Parliament gets 1st BNP MP, more likely to follow

Shawkat Ali Khan

26 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Amid rumours and behind the scene parleys over the past couple of weeks, the National Parliament got its first lawmaker from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Thursday with its chief Khaleda zia still in jail and more are likely to follow suit.

Zahidur Rahman Zahid fom Thakurgaon-3 constituency won the in the December 30 general elections and took his oath as a member of parliament just five days ahead of the deadline defying BNP’s decision of not joining the 350-member house. After five days the seats of those who would fail to take the oath will be decalred vacant and by-elections will take place.

As per law, if any lawmaker-elect refrains from taking oath within 90 days after the beginning of the first session or refrains from informing the Speaker, his/her membership will be cancelled.

In that context, the BNP lawmakers-elect must take the oath by April 30 to retain their membership.

Defending his decision to join the parliament, Zahid told reporters after taking oath that he had to bow down to the “pressure” of the people of his constituency, which has been a traditionally won by the ruling Awami League.

“I have vied for the seat four times. Usually this seat has been traditionally won by the Awami League since the liberation. This is for the first time BNP won the seat,” he said. He said that he would raise voice for the release of BNP chief Khaleda Zia in parliament.

Five other lawmakers-elect Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir from Bogra-6 constituency, Mosharraf Hossain from Bogra-4 constituency, Aminul Islam from Chapanawabganj-2 constituency, Haurn-Ur Rashid from Chapanawabganj-3 constituency, and Abdus Satter from Brahmanbaria-2 constituency  are yet to take the oath.

Political sources told the Daily Sun that two more MPs will seek time from the Speaker for taking the oath.

The development comes amid rumours and media reports that behind the scene parleys by BNP and Awami League leaders that opposition lawmakers-elect would take oath of parliament on one hand and Khaeda Zia would be released on the other hand. The deadlock is over how Khaleda would be released – on parole or on bail. Awami League is for parole, while BNP is for bail.

Khaleda has been sick and is currently under going treatment at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in the capital.

The journey of the current parliament began on January 30 through the December 30 general elections, participated by all registered political parties.

In an immediate reaction, BNP leader Gayeswar Chandra Roy said “Those who have taken the oath defying the stance of the Jatiya Oikya Front are enemies of the people.”

“Our stand is that we will not go to parliament. Those who will go to parliament will not be considered as party men any more,” he said.

Bringing allegations of vote rigging and irregularities in the December 30 parliamentary elections, BNP-dominated Jatiya Oikya Front decided not to join the parliament.

Jatiya Oikya Front secured only eight seats in the elections.

Defying the JOF stance, two Gono Forum lawmakers Sultan Mansur and Mokabbir Khan took the oath. Mansur was elected with the sheaf of paddy symbol, electoral symbol of the BNP while Khan was elected with the Gono Forum symbol ‘Rising Sun.’

Gano Forum has got its lone MP, who is its first MP since the party was founded 26 years ago.

Sultan Monsur, former vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union, took oath on March 7 while Khan took the oath on April 2. Gono Forum later expelled him from the party for going against the party decision while issued a show cause notice to Khan for breaching the party decision.

The Awami League has returned to power for the third consecutive term, securing 257 seats, its ally Jatiya Party got 22 seats while the BNP dominated Jatiya Oikya Front got only eight seats. Rest of the seats are shared by smaller political parties and three independent candidates.

The BNP, which boycotted the January 5, 2014 polls, joined the election without its convicted chief Khaleda Zia for the first time since her stepping into the politics in early 1980s. She remains out of the poll race as a convict serving 17-year jail term in two separate corruption cases.

With the span of time, two Gonoforum lawmakers took the oath, leaving the BNP lawmakers-elect in dismay.

Five lawmakers, except BNP secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, held a meeting at a city hotel on April 15 and reached a decision to join the parliament.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the BNP lawmakers-elect to take the oath and speak in the House for the sake of democracy.

Ignoring the premier’s call, BNP chairperson Khaleda recently asked her loyals not to take the oath and play the role of the opposition from outside the House.