Currently the main political opposition, the BNP will install a bicameral parliament with a view to increasing checks and balances in the legislature if voted to power.
BNP’s Vision 2030 states that the prime minister’s executive authority has given rise to a form of autocratic practices within the democratic system.
In order to balance the powers of the country’s chief executive, the party proposes to establish a higher chamber with intellectuals, minority representatives and different communities from across Bangladesh.
There were, however, no indication about the manner in which the higher chamber of the proposed bicameral legislature would be formed or how the representatives there would be chosen.
BNP chief Khaleda Zia yesterday unveiled her party’s vision, which could also be dubbed as the party’s election pledge, of the future to turn the Bangladesh into a “rainbow nation” to create a political culture where people of different opinions can coexist peacefully.
The three-time former premier also plans to turn Bangladesh into a higher middle-income country by 2030 with an average income of $5,000 per head through creative and intelligent initiatives.
The party and its allies have remained out of power since 2006 and are currently not even in parliament because it had boycotted the last general elections of 2014.
“We want to create a democratic society where national interests will be protected and freedom will be given for various opinions and citizens rights. By this, we want to nurture and strengthen a political culture which will create a vibrant pluralistic society,” she said at the inaugural session of the party’s sixth national council at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh will become a rainbow nation through unity and diversity,” she said in a written statement while presenting her party’s policy before the nation. Her son and BNP Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman addressed the council through a recorded video message.
Khaleda said the next election manifesto of the party would be prepared basis on the Vision 2030.
In the beginning of her 71-minute speech, she showed respect to all the freedom fighters and the national leaders including Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Huq, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for speeding up the independence of Bangladesh through their struggle.
Khaleda said that her party does not believe in “one-day democracy” and in confining people’s rights only in casting votes. Democracy and development are not alternative to each other rather they are supplementary to each other.
“Development cannot take place without democracy, people’s participation and an accountable government system and keeping the doors of corruption and plunders open,” she said.
The former premier said her party wants to coordinate the “three G” – Good Policy, Good Governance and Good Government.
Khaleda said honesty, efficiency, competency, patriotism would be emphasised to ensure the effectiveness of state organs including the administration and the police force. “In such case, personal beliefs and disbeliefs, and loyalty to any party will not be considered.”
In the recent years, people have learnt that an autocratic system prevails in the country in disguise of a parliamentary form of government due to prime minister’s sole executive power.
“To resolve this situation, balance will be brought in the state’s executive power,” she said adding that the upper house of parliament would be established maintaining the existing parliamentary system of unitary character of the state as part of reforms consisting of various communities, marginalised groups and professions wise and talented individuals.
She said that BNP would decentralise power at all levels.
Claiming that her party does not compromise with corruption, Khaleda, who is facing a number of corruption charges, said that BNP would neither do corruption nor allow anyone to indulge in corruption. “The ombudsmen post and office will be functional to ensure transparency and accountability,” she said.
The former premier said that her party would work with the international community to curb militancy and terrorism. “The BNP believes that terrorism is a threat for all the states. This is why we will not allow any terrorist activity in Bangladesh.”
With regard to foreign relations, Khaleda said that the BNP would emphasise on economic interests and would build up friendly and cordial relation with the neighbouring countries.
She said that BNP wants to remove division among the people and it would create a space for the people of all opinions through continuous discussions, views exchange and mutual understanding.
“The BNP wants to introduce positive political culture against vengeance,” she affirmed.
Presenting a gloomy picture of the country’s economy, administration and other sectors, Khaleda said that to overcome this situation a people’s government has to be established.
At the end of her speech, Khaleda reiterated her call for holding talks to resolve all the crises.
She said that her party is demanding fresh election not just to come to power but also to restore democracy, establishing people’s government and create a congenial atmosphere in the country.
Earlier in the day, the BNP chief inaugurated the council programme through hoisting the national and party flags. Acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir made the welcome speech.
The inaugural session began through recitation of the verses from the Qur’an. The attendees showed respect to the party members who died or killed since the fifth council that took place in 2009.
Thousands of leaders and activists of the BNP and its affiliated bodies started gathering at the venue since morning creating traffic gridlock in Shahbagh to Matsya Bhaban areas.
LDP Chairman Oli Ahmed, eminent lawyer barrister Rafiq-Ul Huq, former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University Prof Emajuddin Ahmed, and Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder and freedom fighter Zafrullah Chowdhury also attended the council.
Alderman Joe Moore, a councillor of Chicago, made a speech at the event. He had taken an initiative to name a street in Chicago after the name of Ziaur Rahman.
Several foreign delegates also joined the council. BNP leader Shama Obayed said that many foreign delegates could not join but sent wishes for the council. She read out an e-mail of a BJP leader and aired his video message wishing success of the council.
Khaleda slams govt for BB heist
Khaleda also lambasted the government for its “failure” to ensure safety of public funds.
“People’s money is not safe at the hands of this incompetent and corrupt government whether it is in the bank, in the ATM booth or even in the Bangladesh Bank,” she said.
The three-time former premier alleged that corruption and terrorism took a dreadful turn during the tenure of the current government. “The share market was looted ... Banks were plundered ... Now the foreign hackers have joined in the looting of central bank’s money.”
She said if her is party voted to power, the central bank would be empowered properly to ensure financial discipline. Moreover, political interference would be stopped in banks and financial institutions.
One leader one post
The BNP at the council decided that no one would be allowed to hold more than one post at any level of the party as many leaders have been holding more than one post for long.
During the second session of the council, the decision was made through voice vote.
Also, Khaleda and Tarique were re-elected the party’s chairperson and senior vice-chairman respectively.
At least 14 councillors delivered their speech in the closed-door session. They asked Khaleda to take time to announce the full committee and some raised their voice against reformists.
They requested Khaleda not to give any post to opportunists and inactive leaders, and those who were inactive during anti-government protests.
Khaleda, in reply, said the opinions of the grassroots leaders would be valued when future programmes would be chalked out.
It was decided that there would be 34 vice-chairmen instead of the existing 17 and the chairperson can appoint advisers.
The council decided that there would be seven joint secretary generals, one organising secretary and two assistant organising secretaries for each division.
Expulsion of any member of the party will have to be approved by the chairperson or the standing committee.