As per the law, the BNP’s MPs-elect had to be sworn in by Monday, the nineteenth day into parliament's first session
After months of contentious positions, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has decided it will join the parliament.
Yesterday, four BNP MPs elected to the parliament, except for Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, went to the officer of the speaker where they were sworn in. An hour later, Mirza Fakhrul addressed the media at a press briefing where he said the party has decided to join the parliament for the sake of democracy.
He said the final call was made by Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman.
As per the law, the BNP’s MPs-elect had to be sworn in by Monday, the nineteenth day into parliament's first session.
Mirza Fakhrul, speaking alone at the press briefing, said it was “part of the movement to restore democracy and advocate for the release of Khaleda Zia and put an end to the political crisis.”
He said: “Yesterday [Sunday] evening, Tarique discussed the matter with the Standing Committee members and other senior leaders. The Standing Committee had given him the authority to make the decision.
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“BNP is a liberal, democratic political party. We want fresh elections, release of political prisoners including Khaleda Zia, and withdrawal of cases against party leaders. We oppose the economic distress, lawlessness and social evil pervading the country. The state corruption, stock market scandals, bank looting, and women's oppression needs to be stopped.”
He said the party thinks it is rational to use the parliament as a platform to raise voice along with agitations on the streets.
The four MPs -- Harun Or Rashid from Chapainwabganj-3, Aminul Islam from Chapainwabganj-2, Abdus Sattar from Brahmanbaria-2 and Mosharraf Hossain from Bogura-4 parliamentary constituencies – took the oath around 5:45pm.
Political survival or politically outmanoeuvred?
In the December 30 polls, BNP took part under the banner of the Jatiya Oikya Front, winning six seats. Their allies Gano Forum won two other seats. However, the alliance refused to acknowledge the parliament and demanded fresh polls, citing irregularities and massive vote rigging. The BNP had been reiterating that none of the MPs-elect would take oath.
However, on April 25, Zahidur Rahman took oath as the first MP elected from BNP. He was expelled from the party two days later for violating the party’s decision. Various BNP leaders have gone on record saying anyone who joins the parliament would be treated as traitors.
There have been reports that BNP’s participation in the parliament is part of the negotiations to free Khaleda Zia from jail on parole.
After Zahidur joined, the party claimed there was huge pressure from the government “in order to legitimize” their tenure. However, BNP did not clarify what type of pressure they were facing.
Also Read- All BNP MPs-elect except Fakhrul take oath
The ruling party has been denying any such pressure, saying the parliament was alright without the BNP participating.
Both Gano Forum MPs Sultan Mansur and Mokobbir Khan took the oath subsequently despite the party’s hardline stance earlier. The former was expelled, and the latter issued a show-cause notice for violating party decisions.
What happens to Fakhrul?
Yesterday was the last day to join the parliament. If an MP elected from a constituency had yet to take the oath, the Election Commission is supposed to declare the seats vacant and arrange fresh elections.
Even though Mirza Fakhrul has announced BNP is headed to the parliament, he did not take the oath with the four others. He also did not say when he would take the oath.
Before the swearing-in ceremony BNP MP Harun and Abdus Sattar told reporters that they were joining the parliament as instructed by Tarique Rahman.
Harun said they were not joining to legitimize the “illegal government” rather to speak for the common people.
He also said the parliament is not working for the people “as this government came to power by rigging votes.
“Today, killers and drug addicts get bail, but a former prime minister remains imprisoned. We came here to speak for the people and demand fresh polls.”
When asked why Mirza Fakhrul did not take the oath even though it was a party decision, Harun replied that it was Fakhrul’s personal decision.
“He knows when he is ready to take the oath.”