BNP on Friday alleged that the government’s relief materials are not properly distributed among the helpless and poor people as the “ruling party leaders and activists” are taking those to their homes.
"Though the ministers are asking the ruling party leaders and activists to stand by people, they are taking the government’s relief materials to their homes,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
He came up with the allegation while handing over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to doctors of Holy Family Hospital in the city at the initiative of Ziaur Rahman Foundation and Doctors Association of Bangladesh (DAB).
Rizvi claimed that their party leaders and activists are distributing relief materials among the poor as per their ability following the directives of their top leaders. “We’re standing beside people at this critical time as we de politics for public welfare.”
He urged the country’s people to play a responsible role from their respective positions in tackling the coronavirus epidemic.
"National unity is essential at this time of serious epidemic. It’s the responsibility of the those in power to take steps for forging the unity. We didn’t see any such initiative from their side,” the BNP leader observed.
Though she has completed her a 14-day quarantine at her Gulshan residence, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, who was recently released from jail for six months, will remain in self-isolation until the coronavirus situation improves in Bangladesh.
“The entire country has been apparently under a lockdown. In this situation, she (Khaleda) needs to stay in quarantine for cent percent safety. She’ll remain safe there,” BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters on Thursday.
The BNP leader said Khaleda will be there in the quarantine at her Gulshan house until the country gets rid of the coronavirus. “We’ll take the next steps regarding her treatment and other issues when the situation gets normal.”
About the BNP chief’s health condition, he said she is very sick and her condition hasn’t improved that much yet. “One of our main demands was to send her aboard for treatment. Unfortunately, they (govt) have said she can’t leave the country.”
Fakhrul said all the specialist doctors are now not able to provide her the necessary healthcare services due to the current situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak. “But her personal doctors are providing treatment to her as much as they can. We hope she’ll stay well with this treatment.’”
Dr AZM Zahid Hossain, a member of the BNP chairperson’s personal physician team, said, “ Madam’s (Khaleda’s) 14-day quarantine completed today (Thursday). Her family members now can meet her maintaining social distancing though she’ll remain in self-isolation. “
He said the BNP chief has been suffering from severe pain in the joints of her hands and legs due to arthritis problem. “She has been given therapy to relive her pains. Her diabetic condition still hasn’t come under control. She has some other physical problems for which she needs treatment for a long-time.”
On March 25 last, Khaleda was released from jail for six months upon an execute order considering her age and humanitarian ground.
The government passed the executive order for her release on two conditions -- receiving treatment staying at her Gulshan residence and not leaving the country.
Khaleda was sent to Old Dhaka Central Jail after she had been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by a special court in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8, 2018.
President of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Oli Ahmed on Wednesday demanded the government either to declare a state of emergency or impose a curfew to contain the coronavirus pandemic which continues to spread across the country.
In a statement, he said, “The rage of coronavirus is gradually increasing at an alarming rate over the past four days. Countries around the world have either declared emergency or enforced curfew to force people to stay at home.”
"I urge the government to enforce a curfew or a state of emergency in Bangladesh to protect the nation from the outbreak of coronavirus. The country may face a serious disaster if the government neglects such a timely demand,” he warned.
The LDP chief called upon people to stay indoors for keeping them protected.
"My sincere request to the entire nation not to be completely dependent on the government. You should always seek forgiveness from Allah for what you did in the past. All must follow the government’s directives about maintaining social and physical distancing," Oli said.
He urged people not to come out of their homes unless any urgent need, and not to allow anyone in their families to stay outside.
“Stay fit and help others to stay healthy. Avoid all forms of oppression, injustice, nakedness and antisocial activities," Oli added.
Calling for forging a national consensus to tackle the coronavirus crisis, Jatiya Oikyafront, led by Dr Kamal Hossain, on Tuesday placed a five-point proposal.
In a statement, the senior leaders of the opposition alliance also said it is not possible to overcome any disaster with a “narrow and partisan” attitude.
They said the cases of coronavirus, a global crisis, are gradually growing in Bangladesh, creating panic among people. “It’s now urgently necessary for the government to ensure the essential lifesaving healthcare services of 18 crore people who are at the risk of coronavirus, and expand the corona testing facilities across the country.”
Jatiya Oikyafront leader Dr Kamal Hossain. File photo
The Oikyafront leaders said people are passing their days amid deep uncertainty as the corona infection is spreading fast.
They said the lack of coordination regarding the reopening and shutting down of RMG factories was suicidal which has actually hampered the shutdown activities and ruined people’s confidence.
Their five proposals are forging a national consensus with the participation of all political parties, professional and social organisations, experts and all organs of the nation irrespective of tier party and opinion, forming an all-party task force and adopting national-regional action plans by giving health services the highest priority, taking special initiatives to protect the displaced Rohingya from the outbreak of coronavirus, introducing food rationing system at fair prices for the unemployed people, especially female RMG workers, day-labourers, marginal farmers, physically-challenged and disadvantaged children and Forming an "Emergency Economic Council" on the basis of national consensus to tackle the post-corona socioeconomic situation.
Gonoforum president Dr Kamal Hossain, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, standing committee members Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, JSD president ASM Abdur Rob, Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna and Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, among others, signed the statement.
BNP described the Prime Minister’s stimulus package of Tk72,750 crore as a package of loan, and said she ignored those involved in the informal sector by not announcing any grant for them.
“We could have said the Prime Minister’s response positive had she taken initiatives to resolve the main problem. There’s nothing (incentive package) for the common people who belong to the informal sector, the starving, working ones and the farmers,” he said.
The BNP leader further said, “It seems to me the stimulus package of Tk72,750 crore was given only to create a good impression among people with the size of the money. The fact is that the whole amount is nothing but loan. There's no grant from the government. It’s a loan package of Tk72,750.”
Fakhrul made the remarks through an online press briefing on the Prime Minister’s press conference.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced four new stimulus packages of Tk 67,750 crore to overcome the possible economic shock from the ongoing shutdown enforced due to the deadly COVID-19 outbreak. With the previously announced Tk 5,000 crore stimulus package, the amount of the whole package now stands at Tk 72,750 crore.
The announcement came from a press conference of the Prime Minister held at her official residence Ganobhaban.
Earlier on Saturday, BNP demanded the government form a special fund of Tk 87,000 crore to tackle the impacts of coronavirus on the country’s economy.
The party has proposed allocating Tk 61,000 crore for the 'short-term sector', Tk 18,000 crore for 'medium-term sector' and Tk 8,000 crore for 'unforeseen sector'.
Fakhrul said they urged the government to give a grant of Tk 15,000 crore for the poor and those hand to mouth. “We also called upon the government to raise allowances of the doctors and nurses and give them an incentive for the health sector. But the Prime Minister didn’t pay heed to it.”
He also said many poor people and day-labourers and those involved in the informal sector are passing through a critical time without any income and job. “Unfortunately, she (PM) didn’t say anything about the sector, let alone announcing any package for them.”
The BNP leader said the expatriate Bangladeshis who send huge remittance to the country have also been left out of the incentive package.
He alleged that the Prime Minister also completely neglected the health sector in terms of announcing stimulus package though this sector should now be modernised with necessary equipment and ventilators to provide proper treatment to the virus infected people.
The BNP leader said the government should go for a complete lockdown of the country to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus “I think a complete lockdown is now the only option, but the government can’t realise what a deadly situation the country is going to face. The number of cases doubled today (Sunday) than yesterday (Saturday).”
Referring to media reports, Fakhrul said people are not getting treatment at the country’s 87 percent hospitals for different diseases, but the government is not looking into the matter and taking any visible steps to resolve it
Trashing the allegations of the ruling party leaders that BNP leaders are not staying besides people, he said their party leaders and activists at all unions, villages and upazilas across the country are providing people food and other assistance and relief materials as per their ability.