BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Tuesday said it is impossible for any Election Commission to hold a credible election defying the instructions of a polls-time partisan government.
“I do not want to talk about the Election Commission. Our point is clear that there can never be a free and fair election under a partisan government,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference, at BNP Chairperson’s Gulshan office, the BNP leader also said Awami League has retained power for three terms in a row by introducing “electoral autocracy under cover of democracy.”
“Many political scientists call it a hybrid regime that ultimately deprived people of their voting rights...under a partisan government, the Election Commission doesn’t have the scope to hold credible elections going beyond the instructions of that administration,” he said.
Fakhrul made the remarks as journalists drew his attention to Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal’s comment that the next election will be held as per the law unlike the national election held in 2018 as the current commission has come to deliver on its promises, not to make a U-turn.
Fakhrul also disclosed the outcomes of a virtual meeting of the BNP standing committee held on Monday.
He said their meeting elaborately discussed load shedding and the dire crisis in the power sector that has made public life miserable.
The BNP leader said their policymakers think the power outages are badly affecting the production in industry and agriculture alongside adversely affecting the economy.
“The meeting felt that this deadlock in the power sector has been created due to installation of power plants in excess of demand by the government ignoring the rules and regulations only to protect interests of its own businessmen, serious corruption in giving opportunities for setting up quick rental power plants, the expenditure of a lot of money in the name of capacity charges.”
He said though the 19 quick rental power stations--set up under the government's special law--were supposed to be closed long ago, they are still in operation unnecessarily. “A good number of rental power plants are getting huge sums of money as capacity charges even though they are not producing any power.
The BNP leader also alleged that the government has to pay Tk54,000 crore to the rental power plants for three years without the generation of electricity.
“Around Tk42,000 crore went into the pockets of the government-baked traders. The government paid a total of $8.54 billion dollars as capacity charges over the last one decade. Signing deals with many power plants without properly determining the demand for electricity, the government has created an opportunity for corrupt traders to loot,” the BNP standing committee observed.
Referring to Tk 2.18 lakh crores state debt in the power sector, they said "Foreign debt in the sector is Tk 1.97 lakh crores. This loan will have to be repaid with interest over the next 30 years from 2024, which will be taken from people's pockets."
Referring to recent statistics of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the meeting said the country witnessed a nine-year high 7.56 per cent inflation in June of FY 2021-22. “Alongside the 42 per cent poverty rate, a fresh five lakh people are falling below the poverty line because of the unelected government’s wrong economic policy."
The BNP policymakers alleged that though the incomes of a quarter of politicians and businesspeople belonging to the ruling party have increased abnormally, the middle-class, lower-middle-class people, the peasants and the workers are getting poorer due to the government’s policy of plundering. “A stark income disparity has been created, leading to serious economic instability.”
Fakhrul said their meeting criticised the BGB Director General (DG) for his silence on the comment of the BSF DG that most of the Bangladeshis killed in BSF firing along the Bangladesh-India border were criminals. “The meeting feels that firing at the border is a violation of human rights. Even the criminals have the right to get justice.”
He said the BNP standing committee demanded a clear statement from the government on this matter.