'The election won't be participatory without the participation of BNP and Khaleda Zia'
BNP on Wednesday warned the government that their party and the people would not allow anyone to hold the 11th parliamentary polls without the release of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail.
Speaking at a two-hour token hunger strike, they also said they would stay strong in the movement to free the party chairperson, reports UNB.
BNP arranged the program to demand the release of and proper medical treatment for Khaleda Zia, on the premises of the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh from 10am to 12pm.
"The people of Bangladesh and different political parties have now reached a consensus that the next election must be fair and participatory one. Our foreign friends are also saying that the polls must be inclusive," said BNP Standing Committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain.
"The election won't be participatory without the participation of BNP and Khaleda Zia. We won't allow the holding of any such polls. We will join the election after freeing our leader," he added.
The BNP leader claimed the government has kept Khaleda Zia in jail by convicting her “unfairly in a false case.”
"We demand her (Khaleda’s) unconditional release. Democracy won't be restored without her release, so we must free her through a movement," the BNP Standing Committee member said.
He also criticized the government for not taking steps to ensure “proper medical treatment” for Khaleda. "It’s the government's responsibility to provide her with treatment since she is in jail. But the government is not taking any steps in this regard."
Mosharraf alleged that the government is conspiring to hold another election like the one on January 5, 2014, in order to hang onto power. "We won't allow another voter-less election."
He reiterated BNP's demands for the resignation of the government before the announcement of the election schedule, reconstitution of the Election Commission, and deployment of army to hold the next polls in a fair and credible manner.
Meanwhile, BNP Standing Committee member Moudud Ahmed said it is not possible to free Khaleda from jail through a legal battle. "Taking to the streets is the only way to ensure her release. We are conducting a movement, and we will intensify it to ensure the government falls."
The BNP leader called upon other BNP leaders and activists to make necessary preparations to ensure their movement is a success.
Several thousand BNP leaders and activists participated in the token hunger strike, holding banners, festoons and placards, and chanting slogans to have their chairperson freed from jail.
A large number of law enforcement officials were deployed near the venue to maintain law and order.
The BNP leaders broke their hunger strike by taking water provided by former vice chancellor of Dhaka University Prof Emajuddin Ahmed around 12pm. Similar programs were organized in other parts of the country.
Earlier on Monday, BNP formed human chains across the country, including in front the National Press Club in Dhaka, with the same demands.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has been in jail since a special court convicted her in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on February 8.