BNP and its key ally Jamaat-e-Islami on Wednesday called dawn-to-dusk hartal across the country for June 5, demanding the caretaker government system must stay in place for holding parliamentary elections.
The announcement for the simultaneous programme came from separate press briefings to protest what both parties said the government move to scrap the provision for caretaker government system in the constitution.
Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP) and Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ), two other components of the BNP-led four-party alliance, extended support for the hartal.
This is for the first time during the present government’s tenure that all the four parties, which form a four-party political alliance and which was apparently ineffective since the December 2008 parliamentary elections, are going to stage a protest programme simultaneously.
It is going to be the fifth hartal of BNP.
BNP Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Jamaat Acting Secretary General ATM Azharul Islam announced the programme from press conferences at their party offices at Naya Paltan and Moghbazar in the capital Wednesday.
The announcement came hot in the heels of a political debate brewing over the dissolution of the CG system by the Supreme Court.
The Appellate Division on May 10 in a verdict declared the caretaker government system unconstitutional and void, but observed that the system may be practiced for holding two more parliamentary elections for the sake of “safety of the state and its people”.
On Monday, the premier did not give consent to continuation of the interim government system when the parliamentary special committee on constitutional amendment, at a meeting with the PM, proposed two different models of caretaker government for two more general elections.
Addressing a press conference at Gono Bhaban on Tuesday, Hasina said now there is no way to maintain the caretaker government system after the SC declared it illegal.
The special committee, on the same day, urged BNP to come up with proposals if they want to maintain the caretaker government system, apparently for putting pressure on the main opposition.
The committee believes only a political consensus can now solve the crisis prevailing over survival of the caretaker government system after the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional and void.
Rejecting the move to scrap the caretaker government system, the BNP termed it a ploy to destroy democracy and a blueprint to establish one-party rule.
The BNP, its allies and others like-minded parties have decided to announce agitation programme including hartal to forge a public opinion against the government move.
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, also head of the four-party alliance, on Monday night convened emergency meetings of her party’s standing committee and leaders of four party alliance and decided to go for a simultaneous movement.
“No free and fair election was ever held under Awami League governments in the past and it won’t happen in future also. Election under Awami League won’t be acceptable; and people will resist its ill motive,” BNP said in a statement issued after a standing committee meeting Tuesday night.
After the press conference on Wednesday, Mirza Fakhrul said: “We are rejecting the government decision and declaring the hartal for June 5 across the country to protest the decision.”
He, however, said the areas going to Union Parishad elections on Sunday will be out of the purview of the hartal.
“Caretaker government was a settled issue. There was no debate on it. Has the court any jurisdiction to deliver a verdict on a settled issue? It’s not mandatory for the people and parliament to accept the Supreme Court verdict,” he added.
Announcing the hartal, Jamaat’s Azharul said, “Caretaker government system was introduced due to the failure of political government to hold a free, fair and credible election. The situation still exists so the need for a caretaker government is not over,” he said.
“The ruling Awami League wants to come to power once again using an obliged election commission. The nation will not accept their announcement of dissolution of the caretaker government system,” Azhar said in a written statement.
BJP, IOJ, NDP and NAP expressed their solidarity to hartal through separate press releases issued on Wednesday.
Earlier, BNP observed four hartal programmes on June 27, November 14 and 30 last year and February 7 this year to realize it’s various demanded.