BNP desperate to capture power

18 Jan 2015


Four persons, believed to be BNP workers, were killed in clashes with the security forces on January 5,

 the first anniversary of the elections that brought the Awami League to power for second consecutive term. Street protests erupted in several cities with protesters hurling rocks at police who opened fire and used tear-gas and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators.


Vandalism and arson attacks on vehicles and explosion of bombs continue unabated since then with BNP-backed blockaders vandalizing and setting ablaze vehicles. Many senior leaders of BNP and its allies including Jamaat have reportedly gone into hiding on the face of massive hunt launched by the law enforcing agencies to capture the trouble makers.


Though the BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is leading the protest movement with a call ‘to save country, save people’, there has not been any attempt either to save the country or to save people. The only tangible result achieved so far by the BNP is that in course of just eight days since commencement of the blockade, 13 people have been killed and more than 165 vehicles destroyed or damaged across the country. Houses of Ministers and political party offices have been targeted. There appears no likelihood of a let up in the blockade enforced by BNP and its allies.


Sabotage and attacks in militant style are escalating. Hit and run methods are being followed. Panic and fear are intensifying in public mind. Bombs are being hurled at the residence of Judges; fire is being set to houses. People are dying, receiving injuries and losing their valuables.


Bangladesh’s top business body FBCCI has estimated that the country has been losing Tk 1500 crore to Tk 2000 crore daily due to the blockade that is oozing blood out of the country’s economy. Three sectors - transport, production and tourism - are being hit the hardest. Over 200,000 buses, trucks and vans are grounded and more than two million transport workers have been currently rendered jobless due to this blockade.



Moreover, the indefinite blockade has caused serious disruption in people’s lives and movement across the country. This has played havoc with the export- oriented industries as there is no alternative way of carrying goods to ports for shipment. Business activities suffered a severe blow. People have to remain indoors for fear of violence and shortage of transport. The country’s highest foreign exchange earning Ready Made Garment (RMG) Industry has also been hit badly. Imported goods from sea-ports as well as goods from land ports can not be transported to the market. All these have caused the prices of essentials to soar beyond reach of the people.


Earlier, in late 2013, BNP frequently enforced blockades and shut-downs causing innumerable miseries to the people, killing them and vandalizing public properties; but in spite of resorting to violent means, the party failed to stop the January 5, 2014 elections. The same tactics, adapted once again, has resulted in inculcating fear in the mind of people. It is true that the BNP has been pushed to the wall by the government’s refusal to allow it any political space, but no provocation from BNP and its allies can justify the scale of violence being witnessed now.


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won re-election to a second consecutive five-year term in 2014 after Khaleda Zia’s BNP boycotted the poll on January 5 saying the poll result would be rigged. The opposition alliance has since then been demanding fresh polls under a neutral caretaker government, calling the government ‘illegal’. The government, however, is firm in its decision that the next election will be held in 2019 when it is due and not before that.


After assuming office in 2014, Sheikh Hasina government earned significant success in diplomacy, wooing foreign investment, starting construction of Padma Bridge and holding trial of well-identified war criminals of 1971. Hasina held  the steer firmly to restore peace under a serious threat over the mayhem created by BNP and its allies. Much to the satisfaction of people, the country witnessed several verdicts on war criminals such as Jamaat leaders Abdul Quader Molla, Matiur Rahman Nizami, Mujahid, Kamruzzaman and Mir Quasem Ali. Verdicts in respect of a couple of BNP leaders have also been announced.


There are reasons to support Sheikh Hasina and her government’s policies. Her steadfastness against communal forces, her focused attention on some major infrastructure buildings, her government’s success in agriculture, education, women empowerment and maintaining a steady economic growth opens up genuine scope for public support behind her government. The year 2014 came to an end on a high note for the government employees with implementation of pay commission report recommending higher pay and allowances. The government also celebrated its highly creditable success in distributing more than 32 crore free text books among school children across the country.


World leaders have praised her for playing significant roles in attaining economic growth amid global recession, achieving millennium development goals, reducing poverty and containing militancy with an iron hand. Several international organizations including the UN gave her prestigious awards in recognition of her laudable efforts in taking Bangladesh forward.  People of the country have appreciated her for her prompt action against former Minister Abdul Latif Siddique for the latter’s derogatory remarks about the Quran.


Hasina’s acceptance at home and abroad appears to be on an ascendance for her role in taking the country forward, ensuring socio economic growth amid political unrest, trying war criminals and curbing violence in the country. All these have unnerved the opposition BNP which has become desperate to return to power by unseating the Awami League government by hook or by crook.


Political rivalry between Hasina and Khaleda Zia intensified when Hasina announced rallies to celebrate her re-election for second term, with her arch rival Khaleda Zia calling for anti-government protests. Hasina called upon her agitating rival to shun violence and focus on rebuilding her party, now in disarray. She also urged Khaleda Zia to refrain from “sabotage, violence and killing people”.


There are no takers for BNP’s allegations of ‘unconstitutional parliament’ and ‘illegal government’. It is well known to the people that Speaker of Bangladesh parliament Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Awami League MP Saber Hossen Chowdhury have been elected Presidents of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Inter Parliamentary Union respectively in October last. The victory in top posts of two reputed international organizations has put the country as well as the Hasina government on a firm footing in the global arena.


BNP and its allies have so far not presented any economic agenda or road map to improve the social and economic condition of the country. Their only concern appears to be focused on how to capture power by unseating the government by letting loose the destabilizing forces. They are very vocal about democracy; but how they upheld democratic principles when they were in power is known to all.


In her speeches, Khaleda Zia has been describing the Bangladesh parliament as ‘unconstitutional’ and the government as ‘illegal’. On the other hand, her fugitive son Tarique Rahman, during a meeting with BNP workers in London on December 16 to mark ‘Victory Day’, termed the Bangabandhu as ‘Pakbandhu’ (friend of Pakistan) and a ‘Razakar’.


What Khaleda Zia has refrained from saying in her recent speeches is how and why terrorists, both local and international, made Bangladesh a safe haven during her regime, how so many Pakistani terrorist organisations could find patron and shelter in Bangladesh to run operations and carry out disruptive activities in foreign countries using Bangladesh territories with impunity. She also did not mention why her government could not explore and exploit natural resources or set up power plants to meet the country’s growing energy crisis. She should have admitted her failures which are the main reasons why the country is now facing power, water and gas crisis. She also did not mention why her government could not take required actions to find out the terrorists who killed senior Awami League leaders including ASMS Kibria, Ahsanullah Master, Ivy Rahman and some noted journalists. Why she failed to track down terrorists who carried out killing mission to eliminate Hasina and other top Awami League leaders on August 21, 2004 and also why was the sensational Chittagong arms seizure case sent to cold storage for such a long period? People of the country want an answer to all these questions.


Khaleda Zia’s charges against the Awami League-led Government are in fact intended to create a situation to create barriers against the trial of her long term allies – the war criminals of 1971. She has been a long-time political supporter and well wisher of the noted war criminals and Pakistani collaborators with whom she had earlier shared power. During her tenure as Prime Minister she did everything possible to thwart any move for trial of either the killers Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman or the war criminals. But now she cannot openly defend the anti-liberation forces for fear of antagonizing the people who want to see the war criminals, anti-liberation elements and Pakistani collaborators brought to justice. The nation is not short sighted or the visions of the people are not so blurred. Khaleda Zia must realize that ground is fast moving from behind her feet. She must re-evaluate her position and ask her son Tarique Rahman to stop spreading canards and venom, or these will boomerang on her soon.


People have not forgotten BNP’s association with elements who were and still are not only anti-liberation but also involved in terrorist activities in the name of religion. Unless BNP comes out with a better governance plan and severs all links with pro-Pak and anti-liberation forces, the people will have no reason to be swayed by their crocodile’s tears for democracy. BNP did never have a clean past and its association with anti-liberation and pro-Pak forces allowed the radical and extremist forces to rise and create instability and communal disharmony in the country.


People would like to know what benefit would accrue to the country if BNP is returned to power. Should BNP be brought to power so that more Bangla Bhais, Abdur Rahmans and Mufti Hannans can be created and promoted? So that more grenade attacks of August 21 model can be organized? So that Jamaat can dictate BNP and carry out its anti-Bangladesh agenda? So that war criminals can be freed from jail and restored to full glory with compensations?

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