Wake up more to restore voting rights, Fakhrul urges people
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Wednesday called upon the country’s people to wake up more to restore their voting rights by ousting the Awami League government. “The people of Bangladesh have woken up. We need to now wake up more to materialise the dreams of the Liberation War and build a truly people's Bangladesh for ensuring a beautiful future for our children,” he said. Speaking at a sit-in programme, the BNP leader also called upon people from all walks of life to join their ongoing simultaneous movement to force the present ‘autocratic’ government to quit, paving the way for establishing a pro-people government and parliament through an acceptable election. “Let us move towards that goal. We’ve to move forward uniting the people of Bangladesh to restore our voting rights and democracy. There’s a good sign that the noted citizens of the country are coming forward to this end,” he said. BNP arranged the sit-in programme in front of its Nayapaltan central office as part of the simultaneous movement against the current government. Other like-minded opposition parties, alliances and organisations also observed a similar programme in different areas of the capital and nine other divisions in the country to realise their 10-point demand including holding the next polls under a non-party neutral government. Read more: BNP announces countrywide rally, procession on Jan 16 BNP began the programme at Nayapaltan around 10:30am with the recitation of verses from the holy Quran. It was the second programme of the simultaneous movement after the mass procession by the 33 opposition parties on December 30. Earlier on December 30, BNP and 32 other like-minded opposition parties staged a mass procession programme in different parts of the capital as the first programme of the simultaneous movement. AL has become isolated from people Fakhrul said Awami League identifies itself as a political party. “We know that they are a very old familiar party. “But now they have completely lost their political existence.” He said Awami league has also got isolated from people. “That's why they have to depend on the police and bureaucrats now to stay in power by force." The BNP leader said all the opposition political parties have agreed to remove the current government for the restoration of democracy and people's right to vote. “They will make this movement successful by realising the 10-point demand.” He said the current government has destroyed all the state institutions. “That’s why we’re talking about 27 points to reform the state.” Referring to media reports on Wasa Managing Director Taqsem A Khan’s 14 houses in the USA, Fakhrul said an official of an autonomous organisation is building houses abroad by siphoning off hundreds of crores of taka abroad. Read more: BNP’s 27 points parts of anti-govt movement: Amir Khosru He alleged that people belonging to the ruling party are ruining the country’s economy by indulging in plundering and siphoning off huge money abroad. The BNP leader alleged that the ruling party leaders have established a reign of plundering by establishing their control on all institutions, including the banks. He said the current government’s main target is to restore one-party Baksal rule by snatching people’s all rights. “We won’t let the government do it. We’ll move forward together with people to ensure the fall of this regime.” Fakhrul said many leaders and activists of their party have still been languishing in jail enduring unbearable suffering. He demanded the government immediately release the party’s arrested central leaders, including Dhaka south city unit convener Abdus Salam, party senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, joint secretary general Khairul Kabir Khokon and publicity affairs secretary Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Anne. Fakhrul alleged that the ruling party activists and law enforcers attacked their peaceful sit-in programmes in Faridpur and Mymensingh. “We strongly condemn and protest it.” BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said the government used to say BNP announces programmes to create chaos. “But we arranged 10 rallies and subsequent programmes peacefully.” He said they will also hold their all programmes in the days to come in the same way together with people to oust the government and implement their 27 points to reform the state. Read more: Implementing 10 points a key New Year’s challenge for BNP: Mosharraf He thanked the party leaders and activists for making the sit-in programme a success with their huge participation. BNP standing committee member Mirza Abbas said this government must go as people have woken up against it. “We don’t want to remove this regime by pushing it down. We want to ensure its fall through a credible election under a caretaker government,” he said. Abbas said their party doesn’t want to resort to any violence as BNP believes in democracy and peaceful programmes. “The government is suffering from unnecessary panic. BNP does not want any chaos and unrest. We urge the government to refrain from provocative activities. If you do that then the consequences will not be good. The days of being in power by force are over.” He also called upon the government to accept their party’s 10-point demand and hand over power to a non-party neutral government for arranging a free and fair election. Thousands of leaders and activists of BNP and its associate bodies joined the sit-in programme, disrupting traffic movement in the area. Besides, Ganatantra Mancha observed a similar programme in front of the Jatiya Press Club while the 12-Party Alliance near Bijoy Nagar Water Tank, Jatiyatabadi Samamona Jote at Purana Paltan, LDP at FDC Crossing and Ganatantrik Bam Oikya in the east side of the Jatiya Press Club and Gonoforum (Montu) at Arambagh.
AL must be ousted to restore people's voting rights: Mosharraf
BNP senior leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain on Tuesday said there is no alternative to unseating the current Awami League government for the restoration of democracy and people’s voting rights. Speaking at a discussion, he also said the government is trying to procure more electronic voting machines (EVMs) spending a huge amount of money amid the economic crisis in the country only to rig votes digitally in the next polls. “There is now no scope to do politics independently in the country. Awami League has destroyed every institution, democracy and electoral system to consolidate its rule. This regime must be toppled to restore democracy and the right to vote,” he said. Mosharraf, a BNP standing committee member, also said the country’s people do not believe that a fair and acceptable election is possible under the Awami League government. “That’s why BNP has raised the demand for holding the next election under a neutral government.” Read: Govt must be ousted to end enforced disappearance, repression: Fakhrul ASM Hannan Shah Smriti Parishad arranged the discussion at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU), marking the sixth death anniversary of BNP standing committee member ASM Hannan. Opposing the Election Commission’s move to use the EVMs in the 12th parliamentary election, Mosharraf said the Commission is forcing people to use the machine when they prefer to vote with their own hands. “They (govt) can’t rig votes again at night like 2018. That's why now they’re preparing to indulge in vote robbery this time by using the EVMs," he observed. The BNP leader also questioned the justification of buying EVMs by spending Tk8,000 crores when the country’s people cannot manage three meals a day amid a 'famine-like' situation. “People are struggling to survive due to hikes in the prices of essential commodities and fuel oil and they’re facing load-shedding for 8-10 hours in the rural areas…in such a situation, they (govt) are going to spend so much money for EVMs.” He warned that the country’s economy will be ruined if the Awami League government is allowed to hang onto power anymore. “We must protect the country and its economy from destruction. “ Mosharraf alleged that democracy is killed whenever Awami League comes to power. “They killed freedom fighters by forming Rakkhi Bahini and thus initiated the politics of killing in the country. They’ve been staying in power for 14 years by force, but the Prime Minister has said going abroad that a gentle breeze of democracy is blowing in Bangladesh." He recalled the contributions of Hanan Shah to BNP and his role in favour of democracy during the 1/11 political changeover in 2007.
Establishing people’s voting rights crucial for democracy: GM Quader
Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader on Monday said it is crucial to establish the voting rights of the people for ensuring democracy and good governance in the country. “Voting is the gateway to democracy. If voting rights are not ensured, democracy is not guaranteed while good governance remains elusive,” he said. Speaking at a programme of Chandpur district unit Jatiya Jubo Sanghati at Jatiya Party Chairman’s Banani office, GM Quader also said the accountability of the government and human rights are not established if voting rights are not ensured. Read: CEC: Army may be called out for next parliamentary polls “So, it is important to establish the voting rights of the people of the country,” he observed. The Jatiya Party chief also said the people in Bangladesh are eagerly waiting for a free, fair and impartial election. The leaders of the Jatiya Jubo Sanghati greeted GM Quader with a bouquet at the programme. Jatiya Party Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu and praesidium members Mir Abdus Sabur Asud and Rezaul Islam Bhuiyan were, among others present.
Biden says getting vaccinated ‘gigantically important’
President Joe Biden expressed pointed frustration Wednesday over the slowing COVID-19 vaccination rate in the U.S. and pleaded that it’s “gigantically important” for Americans to step up and get inoculated against the virus as it surges once again. Biden, speaking at a televised town hall in Cincinnati, said the public health crisis has turned largely into a plight of the unvaccinated as the spread of the delta variant has led to a surge in infections around the country. “We have a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten the vaccination — it’s that basic, that simple,” he said on the CNN town hall. The president also expressed optimism that children under 12 will be approved for vaccination in the coming months. But he displayed exasperation that so many eligible Americans are still reluctant to get a shot. Read: Biden backs Trump rejection of China’s South China Sea claim “If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the IC unit, and you’re not going to die,” Biden said at the forum at Mount St. Joseph University. “So it’s gigantically important that ... we all act like Americans who care about our fellow Americans.” Over 80 minutes, Biden fielded questions on many of the pressing issues of the day, including his infrastructure package, voting rights and the makeup of the congressional commission that will investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. He also reflected on what it’s like to be president, saying he’s sometimes taken aback by the pomp that comes with the job and the weight of being “the last guy in the room” left to make the call on daunting decisions. Six months into his presidency, taming the coronavirus remains his most pressing problem. U.S. hospitalizations and deaths are nearly all among the unvaccinated. But COVID-19 cases nearly tripled in the U.S. over two weeks amid an onslaught of vaccine misinformation that is straining hospitals, exhausting doctors and pushing clergy into the fray. Across the U.S., the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Just 56.2% of Americans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The president noted that the rise has become so concerning that even his critics are pushing back against vaccine disinformation. Biden made an indirect reference to high-profile conservative personalities at Fox News who have “had an altar call” and are now more openly speaking to their skeptical guests about the benefits of getting vaccinated. Sean Hannity recently told viewers, ”I believe in the science of vaccination” and urged them to take the disease seriously. Steve Doocy, who cohosts “Fox & Friends,” this week told viewers the vaccination “will save your life.” Before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington, Biden told reporters he was “glad they had the courage to say what they’ve said.” Asked about rising prices, Biden acknowledged “there will be near-term inflation” as the economy rebounds from the pandemic but said it was “highly unlikely long-term inflation will get out of hand.” Read:Vaccination 'most patriotic thing', COVID not yet finished: Biden Biden, who traveled to Ohio as he’s trying to rev up support for his economic agenda, visited a union training center ahead of the town hall. The trip comes as the fate of his infrastructure proposal remains unclear after Senate Republicans rejected a $1 trillion blueprint i n a key test vote Wednesday. A bipartisan group of 22 senators said in a joint statement after the vote that they were close to coming to terms on a deal and requested a delay until Monday. Biden expressed confidence in the outcome, saying, “It’s a good thing and I think we’re going to get it done.” While lawmakers wrangle over the details of that proposal on Capitol Hill, Biden made the case that his nearly $4 trillion package is needed to rebuild the middle class and sustain the economic growth the country has seen during the first six months of his presidency. The president’s visit took him near the dangerously outdated Brent Spence Bridge — a chokepoint for trucks and emergency vehicles between Ohio and Kentucky that the past two presidents promised without success to replace. Biden made a passing reference to the structure, telling town hall attendees it’s time to “fix that damn bridge of yours.” He delved into the personal when he faced a question about the scourge of drug addiction, noting he’s “so damn proud” of his son Hunter Biden, who has published a memoir about his struggles with substance abuse. The president also noted he feels a bit self-conscious about some of the fringe benefits that come with the office. He elicited laughter when he said he told some of the White House staff not to come in to serve breakfast. The real reason: The president likes to eat breakfast in his robe. Biden defended the filibuster against repeated questions from CNN moderator Don Lemon about why he feels the need to protect what some critics argue is a legislative tactic once used to protect racist policies. He said he’s trying to bring the country together around the need to protect voting rights, and he doesn’t want “the debate to only be about whether or not we have a filibuster.” Biden said if Democrats removed the filibuster “you’re going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done.” Read:Biden: Infrastructure vow was not intended to be veto threat Back in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday rejected two Republicans selected by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on a committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. McCarthy said the GOP won’t participate in the investigation if Democrats won’t accept the members he appointed. Lemon asked how Biden could have confidence that Republicans and Democrats can get together on anything when they can’t even come to agreement on investigating the most brazen attack on the U.S. Capitol in 200 years. Biden simply replied, “These people,” a nod to forum’s spectators and his faith in Americans writ large. But Biden seemed to also acknowledge the partisan rift in Washington had become maddening. “I don’t care if you think I’m Satan reincarnated,” Biden said. “The fact is you can’t look at that television and say nothing happened on the 6th and listen to people who say this was a peaceful march.”
Biden faces growing pressure from the left over voting bill
When New York Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones was at the White House for the signing of the proclamation making Juneteenth a national holiday last week, he told President Joe Biden their party needed him more involved in passing voting legislation on the Hill. In response? Biden “just sort of stared at me,” Jones said, describing an “awkward silence” that passed between the two. For Jones, the moment was emblematic of what he and a growing number of Democratic activists describe as a lackluster engagement from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on an issue they consider urgent and necessary for the health of the democracy. Although the White House has characterized the issue as “the fight of his presidency,” Biden has prioritized his economic initiatives, measures more likely to win Republican support in the Senate. And he’s shown little interest thus far in diving into a messy debate over changing Senate rules to pass the legislation on Democratic votes alone. Read:Adams takes fragile lead in NYC Democratic mayoral primary But as Democrats’ massive election legislation was blocked by Republicans on Tuesday, progressives argued Biden could not avoid that fight much longer and must use all his leverage to find a path forward. The criticism suggested the voting debate may prove to be among Biden’s first major, public rifts with the left of his presidency. “President Obama, for his part, has been doing more to salvage our ailing democracy than the current president of the United States of America,” Mondaire said, referring to a recent interview in which the former president pushed for the legislation. The White House argues that both Biden and Harris have been in frequent touch with Democratic leadership and key advocacy groups as the legislation — dubbed the For the People Act — moved through Congress. Biden spoke out forcefully at times, declaring a new Georgia law backed by Republicans is an “atrocity” and using a speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to say he was going to “fight like heck” for Democrats’ federal answer, but he left negotiations on the proposal to Hill leaders. On Monday, in advance of the vote, Biden met with Sen. Joe Manchin, D.W.Va., at the White House to discuss both voting rights and infrastructure. But Biden didn’t use his clout to work Republicans, who have expressed staunch and unified opposition to any voting legislation, arguing Democrats are pushing an unnecessary federal takeover of elections now run by state and county officials. Biden spent much of the month focused on foreign policy during a trip to Europe, encouraging Americans to get vaccinated and selling his infrastructure plan to the American public. He tasked Harris with taking the lead on the issue, and she spent last week largely engaged in private meetings with voting rights advocates as she traveled for a vaccination tour around the nation. Those efforts haven’t appeased some activists, who argue that state laws tightening election laws are designed to make it harder for Black, young and infrequent voters to cast ballots. The best way to counter the state laws is with federal legislation, they say, and Biden ought to come out for a change in the Senate filibuster rules that require 60 votes to advance most legislation. “Progressives are losing patience, and I think particularly African American Democrats are losing patience,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne, a longtime aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “They feel like they have done the kind of good Democrat thing over the last year-plus, going back to when Biden got the nomination, unifying support around Biden, turning out, showing up on Election Day.” “Progressives feel like, ’Hey, we did our part.′ And now when it’s time for the bill to be paid, so to speak, I think some progressives feel like, ’OK, well, how long do we have to wait?” Read:Voting ends, wait for results begins in NYC mayoral primary Still, there could be a silver lining for Democrats in the ongoing battle over voting rights: The issue is a major motivator for progressives and may serve to drive enthusiasm among Black voters as well, potentially driving engagement in a midterm year where Democrats are certain to face a tough political climate. Harris is expected to continue to meet with voting rights activists, business leaders and groups working on the issue in the states, and will speak out publicly on the issue aiming to raise awareness of new voting laws and to pressure Republicans to get on board with federal legislation. She watched the legislation fail to advance to debate on Tuesday, in her role as president of the Senate, and coming off the floor told reporters that she and Biden still support voting legislation and “the fight is not over.” Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, a progressive grassroots group, said it’s been nowhere near the level of advocacy the public has seen on the infrastructure bill. “The president has been on the sidelines. He has issued statements of support, he’s maybe included a line or two in a speech here or there, but there has been nothing on the scale of his public advocacy for recovery for COVID relief, for roads and bridges,” Levin said. “We think this is a crisis at the same level as crumbling roads and bridges, and if we agree on that, the question is, why is the president on the sidelines?” White House aides push back against any suggestion the president and vice president haven’t been engaged on the issue, and say his laissez-faire approach to the negotiations is based partly on his experience as a senator and his belief that his involvement risks undermining a deal before it’s cut. But in private, White House advisers see infrastructure as the bigger political winner for Biden because it’s widely popular among voters of both parties, a White House official said. Passing a major infrastructure bill is seen within the White House as going further towards helping Democrats win in the 2022 midterms and beyond than taking on massive voting overhaul that had a slim chance of passage without a debate over filibuster rules, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal talks. Embracing filibuster changes, in particular, risks undermining Biden’s profile as a bipartisan dealmaker and could poison the delicate negotiations around infrastructure, where the White House insists it still sees opportunity for bipartisan compromise. Read:US hits encouraging milestones on virus deaths and shots “He does have to preserve some negotiating power, and his brand probably does not compute with being at the tip of the spear on reforming the filibuster,” Payne acknowledged. Still, other Democrats say it’s time for Biden to get out front on the issue. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas, said the proposals Republicans are looking to pass in his home state are “more explicit and more dangerous than anything I’ve ever come across.” Allred said that the voting fight increases pressure on Biden to take the leadership on the filibuster fight. “We do need President Biden to make that a priority, because if you’re going to talk about supporting the underlying legislation, it really doesn’t matter if we don’t have way to get past the filibuster,” he said.
AL, democracy can’t get along: JaPa
Accusing the government of ‘destroying’ the election system in Bangladesh, Jatiya Party Secretary General Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu on Tuesday said Awami League and democracy cannot get along.
Will stand up firmly to restore voting rights: Dr Kamal
Jatiya Oikyafront Convener Dr Kamal Hossain on Thursday said they will take to the streets uncompromisingly to ‘restore’ democracy and people’s voting rights by strengthening their unity further.