The BNP is likely to demand that Sheikh Hasina stays out of Bangladesh during the next general election “for the sake of a free, fair and neutral election”.
BNP’s “supportive government” proposal with such a demand will be floated when the party Chairperson Khaleda Zia returns from London.
Sheikh Hasina was out of country during 1996-97, enjoying a vacation with her daughter Saima Wazed in the USA. BNP may demand sending Sheikh Hasina on such a vacation, said party leaders involved in formulation of the proposal.
Ruling Awami League government said no to several BNP calls for holding dialogue about the next national election and election-time government issues.
If the government holds dialogues now, BNP will make proposals, the source added. “If not, then BNP will announce their poll-time government proposal in front of the nation when Khaleda is back from UK.”
Currently, BNP chief Khaleda Zia is staying at Tarique Rahman’s house in Kingston, London, for medical treatment.
She is also having several party meetings and finalising the “supportive government” proposal to discuss it with her son and party central leaders staying in London.
Party sources said, BNP's main demand is that Awami League President Sheikh Hasina not stay as prime minister during the election as what they say “there will be no neutral election if Sheikh Hasina remains prime minister.”
The party fears if Sheikh Hasina holds the post of Prime Minister during election time, all government administrations, including law-enforcement agencies, will work for Awami League and their alliances.
BNP raised the same demand before January 5 elections in 2014, and did not take part in the polls as their demand was not met. At that tim,e a 29-member poll-time government, headed by Sheikh Hasina, was formed three days before the announcement of the election schedule.
The party may also propose that Sheikh Hasina can stay prime minister, will stay in the country, but she can’t stay as the chief of Awami League, her power should be reduced and the parliament has to be dissolved before elections.
BNP thinks if the parliament is dissolved, then a level playing field will be ensured for elections and all candidates will get an opportunity to campaign freely.
The party is also likely to propose that the President or Speaker, or an academic or civil society member, head the election time supportive government, which will consist of 10 to 12 cabinet members from Awami League, BNP and other political parties.
In this case, pro-BNP civil society members and TV personalities will also discuss the issues on TV shows.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said: “We are yet to finalise the supporting government proposal.” “It will be placed before the nation in proper time,” he added.
When asked about the demand for Sheikh Hasina's absence during poll time, Fakhrul further said, “wait and see.”
Party sources said the draft of the supportive government proposal is ready. Khaleda Zia will finalise it after discussing it with her son and party Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman during her London visit.
BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said their party chief would announce the proposal in front of the nation when it is ready.
He hoped BNP's proposal would be beneficial to all political parties as well for the country.
Awami League leaders have indicated that they might meet BNP’s demand for the dissolution of the 10th national parliament.
In their opinion, even if the parliament is dissolved, the prime minister will still hold her position under Article 57, Section 3 of the constitution, which details the terms on the tenure of the prime minister. It says: “Nothing in this article shall disqualify Prime Minister for holding office until his successor has entered upon office.”
The election will be held under the constitutional guidelines is the ruling party’s staunch stance on the issue. This is something the BNP leaders are aware of and are planning to accordingly.