Wednesday, October 4

Govt hints at talks with BNP

BNP has to pledge to stop terrorism, cut militant ties and ask courteously, says HT Imam



The government would consider a dialogue with BNP if it “moves away from the path of violence” and “asks nicely”, a key adviser to the prime minister said today in a major policy decision for the ruling Awami League.

The statement came in the backdrop of months of outright rejection of the proposal of a political dialogue demanded by the opposition bloc and recent violent demonstration that came along BNP-led alliance’s non-stop blockade.

BNP also hinted putting an end to their ongoing countrywide agitation on the promise of a dialogue for an inclusive general election.

Since the January 5, 2014 parliamentary election, key ministers and policymakers repeatedly rejected the proposal for a dialogue with the BNP, which boycotted the 10th general election along with its allies in the 20-party combine.

While still maintaining that the government did not feel the need for talks with BNP, HT Imam, political adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, floated the new proposal while speaking at a seminar in Dhaka.

“For a dialogue, it (BNP) will have to make a written pledge that they will stop terrorism, cut ties with militants and ask courteously,” he said. “Then the government will consider a dialogue with them.”

However, the key adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ruled out any possibility of an interim election. “The government can host an interim election anytime, if it wishes. But, that depends on the desire of the government.”

He also issued a note of threat the BNP: “The Supreme Court has declared Zia’s regime illegal. Now, it is to be seen whether his constituted party in that time can be legal.”

Imam was speaking at a seminar in with the theme of “progress and a year of democracy,” organised by a sub-committee of Awami League’s publicity and publication unit.

Former Chittagong University vice chancellor Abdul Mannan presented the keynote at the programme hosted at the Engineers Institute in Dhaka.

HT Imam made the headlines recently for announcing that the party would “take care” of its student activists (Bangladesh Chhatra League) in the civil service once they make it past the written examinations of BCS.

Ahead of 10th parliamentary elections on January 5, then prime minister Sheikh Hasina called up BNP chief Khaleda Zia and invited her over for dialogue regarding elections.

The major rift in that time was the polls-time government. Awami League had changed the constitution revoking the provision of a caretaker body, thereby compelling the elections to be held under an elected government.

BNP were demanding restoration of the caretaker provision, and in the end, the January 5 elections of 2014 saw the party boycotting an election that reinstated Awami League in power with more than half the constituencies won uncontested.

Hasina had promised a fresh inclusive election after the one of January 5, but, after coming to power, the party dismissed any possibility of election before the scheduled period of five years.

Now, with the first anniversary of the January 5 polls, BNP called nonstop countrywide blockade for demand for an election under caretaker body. Khaleda’s recent media appearance also pushed a seven-point charter for a fresh election.

Since January 3, Khaleda has been kept confined inside her Gulshan office ahead of the party’s countrywide protest programmes for the first anniversary of January 5 polls, what the party labels as a “democracy killing day.”

The announcement of nonstop blockade came from her confinement and recently, BNP standing committee member Rafiqul Islam Mia, after meeting the party chief, hinted that the end to agitation may come with the initiative for a dialogue.