Dhaka, Dec 18 (UNI) The Bangladesh Nationalist Party(BNP) has demanded immediate lifting of state emergency as well as release of both the former premiers Begum Khaleda Zia and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina for the success and legitimacy of any electoral process in the country.
This was demanded yesterday by BNP Secretary-General Khandakar Delwar Hossain, who said in a statement ''an appropriate political environment cannot be created if the two top leaders are kept behind bars, and the holding of any election in such a situation would not be meaningful.'' He demanded immediate lifting of the state of emergency and holding of elections to pave the way for an elected government to restore the democratic process.
''We demand immediate release of Khaleda Zia and all other detained political leaders including Sheikh Hasina for the creation of a suitable political environment. The key to politics is leadership, so no election can be meaningful if the leaders remain in jail,'' Mr Hossain said on the occasion of Victory Day, organised by the party at the Institution of Engineers, reported Daily Age.
''The principal duty of the government is to hold the election at the earliest. There may not be any such record of imposing a state of emergency for such a long time. Enough is enough. Lift emergency immediately and hold the elections. Why do you mistrust the people?'' asked the BNP general-secretary.
He also took a virtual dig at the Election Commission for slow pace of work in preparing the electoral rolls.
''I have never seen such a long time being required for preparing the electoral roll. They have prepared a two-year roadmap for holding the polls, but how much of the work have they completed?'' claimed Mr Delwar.
The secretary-general also accused the government of having failed in its resolve to contain corruption and said, ''the government was talking a lot about containing corruption, but the reality is that it still exists to a significant extent. Doesn't corruption exist now? The people know who these corrupt people are and will give a befitting reply in time.'' He regretted that democracy in the country has faced adversity since 1947.
''Peculiar things like basic democracy were seen here, but in India there has been no interference in democratic practice though it has much more powerful military force,'' pointed out the BNP leader.
A joint secretary-general of the party Nazrul Islam Khan accused the Election Commission of working against the BNP since it had appointed a rival party leader, Dr Kamal Hossain, as its counsel to defend it in the case filed by the BNP in the High Court.
Another joint secretary-general Gayeshwar Roy appealed for the unity of the democratic forces for the restoration of the democratic process in the country.
The Awami League's acting general secretary said the restoration of democratic polity could not take place by behind the scene negotiations among the political forces but more assertive unity.
The Jatiyatabadi Krishak Dal general secretary Shamsuzzaman Dudu said, ''some are demanding trial of the war criminals, and we want that too but I ask them to add the demand of having the right to speak freely.'' Professor Ebne Golam Samad, Amar Desh's editor Amanullah Kabir, BNP's organising secretary Mohammad Shahjahan and Chhatra Dal's vice-president Sultan Salahuddin Tuku also took part in the discussion, along with others.