Democracy, justice, rights and national interest will be Gono Odhikar Parishad’s four core operating principles
Student leader Nurul Haque Nur and politician Dr Reza Kibria have launched a new party, named “Bangladesh Gono Odhikar Parishad,” in the country’s political arena, with the aim to challenge the status quo and pursue the rule of democracy.
Nur, a former vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu), and Reza, the son of late Awami League minister Shah AMS Kibria, have been made the member secretary and convener, respectively, of the party’s convening committee declared Tuesday.
The new party and its 101-member committee were announced at a media event at their office in Zaman Tower at Purana Paltan, Dhaka. Names of 98 committee members were revealed later.
Most of the party’s leaders are former and current leaders of the Bangladesh Students, Youth and Workers Rights Council, which Nur leads.
Nur said they will form an executive committee through a national council after six months.
At the event, Nur and Reza said their party has set democracy, justice, rights and national interest as its four core operating principles.
Nur told the media: “In front of everyone, I declare this conviction that we will establish Bangladesh in the progressive stream of development by eliminating the multi-layered inequalities created in various fields.”
“This party will be the party of the people. Any member of this party will be able to serve as the president or the prime minister, a norm not maintained by the other political parties of the country,” he added.
Reza, a former general secretary of Dr Kamal Hossain-led Gono Forum, said they plan to nominate candidates to 300 parliamentary seats in the next general election -- which will be held either in late 2022 or early 2023.
He said: “Since this party belongs to the people, it will be run with the funds received from the general people. We will not run the party with money from the rich people or businessmen.”
“We want a neutral caretaker government during the general election period. Without it, there is no point in participating in the polls,” added Reza, who left Gono Forum in February this year following internal conflicts and has been mostly inactive in politics since then.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury also attended the Gono Odhikar Parishad unveiling event on Tuesday.
“These young men know how to dream and make them come true. They are symbols of honesty and they will be able to build a new Bangladesh,” he said addressing the new party’s leaders and welcoming their initiative.
At the press conference, the party's Joint Convener Md Rashed Khan also presented their 21-point political program -- which includes plans to focus on the prevention of corruption and pollution, the balance of power, good governance, the right to vote, minorities, religion, energy and mineral resources, and social security.
‘Arrest Nur and Reza’
Meanwhile, hours after Nur and Reza Kibria floated their party, pro-liberation platform Muktijoddha Mancha demanded their arrest claiming the duo was involved in orchestrating the attack on JM Sen Hall Durga Puja venue in Chittagong and inciting communal violence elsewhere.
Terming it an “extremist and terrorist organization,” Muktijoddha Mancha leaders urged the authorities to ban the party while they blocked the Shahbagh intersection for half an hour.
Their claim coincided with Nur’s recent remarks that the port city’s police were forcing the suspects, who include nine members of his organization Chhatra Odhikar Parishad detained for their alleged involvement, to confess by threatening them with “crossfire.”
He also claimed that the police had demanded Tk1 lakh from each of his men’s families and that they had been implicated in the case for failing to pay the bribes.
However, Kotwali police station OC Nezam Uddin refuted Nur’s allegations on Tuesday, saying all the arrests related to the Puja venue attack were made based on evidence that include CCTV camera footage and pictures from the day of the incident.
The OC also brushed off the extortion and forced confession allegation. “The suspects confessed before a court, not to us. Police only followed protocol.”
Nur and Reza – at a glance
A former activist of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, Nurul Haque Nur came to the limelight after his organisation Bangladesh General Student Rights Protection Council spearheaded a campaign against quotas in government jobs in 2018.
He was elected the vice-president of Ducsu in 2019.
Until the formation of the new party, Nur has been serving as the coordinator of the Bangladesh Students, Youth and Workers Rights Council.
Over the past few years, he came under multiple attacks by various groups on different occasions. There are several cases against him as well.
On the other hand, Oxford graduate Reza Kibria is the son of late Shah AMS Kibria, who served as the finance minister under Sheikh Hasina from 1996 to 2001. Kibria was re-elected to the Habiganj 1 seat in 2001 and killed in a grenade attack in Habiganj in 2005.
Reza had worked at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a long time. In 2018, he left the IMF job and joined Gono Forum after returning home.
He also joined Jatiya Oikya Front, led by Gono Forum and BNP, before the 11th parliamentary election on December 30, 2018, and had contested from the Habiganj 1 seat but lost.
On May 5, 2019, Dr Kamal Hossain made Reza general secretary of Gono Forum, dropping Mostafa Mohsin Montu -- which in turn widened conflicts among the party leaders and led to his resignation from the party earlier this year.