Jatiya Party Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu on Thursday said they do not subscribe to the concept of an election under a caretaker government. Only a proportional election system can ensure fairness, he added. Chunnu was speaking at a seminar on Democracy Day at the party's headquarters in Kakrail Thursday, said Jatiya Party Office Secretary-2 MA Razzak Khan in a media statement. The Jatiya Party observes November 10 as Democracy Day as its founder Hussain Mohammad Ershad lifted martial law on this day in 1986. Read: No conspiracy can break Jatiya Party’s unity: Chunnu "Since 1991, the Awami League and the BNP have ruled the country for 32 years but failed to ensure good governance," Chunnu said. "The BNP and the Awami League get into a tug-of-war over election results, with both parties calling it unfair when they lose it. The BNP and the Awami League never kept the promises they made to the people," the Jatiya Party leader added.
As opposition BNP says it is determined to boycott the next national polls of Bangladesh under the current Awami League government, it is framing almost the same old formula for a non-partisan caretaker government in the light of the revoked 13th amendment to the constitution. But the constitutional experts say there are some legal barriers to restoring the caretaker government based on the 13th amendment as the Supreme Court declared it illegal. On the other hand, the ruling party has rejected the demand for restoring the system outright. They, however, think bringing back the caretaker government or a polls-time government system by any name is possible only based on political consensus. Read No more caretaker government in Bangladesh: Law Minister They also say the next election is also possible under a polls-time non-partisan government even without any prior constitutional amendment like the 1991 general election if only the major political parties can reach an understanding. Political analysts are also hopeful about a consensus among the major political parties about an inclusive 12th parliamentary election as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said her government wants all political parties to join the next polls. But BNP is firm on its decision not to join the next polls unless there is a non-partisan government while the ruling party is determined to hold the polls following the constitution. Read CEC refuses to comment over demand of caretaker government The first caretaker government was installed in Bangladesh in 1990 under then Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed based on political understating without any prior constitutional amendment. On March 26, 1996, BNP passed the 13th amendment to the constitution introducing the caretaker government system in the face of fierce movement by the Awami League. But the caretaker government system was abolished through the 15th amendment in 2011 as the Supreme Court struck down the 13th amendment to the constitution as illegal. Read Will have tea with you if you accept demand for caretaker govt On Thursday, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said their party is preferring the caretaker government formula in accordance with article 58(B) (C) (D) that were included in the Constitution through the 13th amendment. Eminent jurist Shahdeen Malik told UNB that formation of a caretaker government in Bangladesh based on the 13th amendment will not be lawful since the apex court declared it illegal. “If even the constitution is amended based on the 13 amendment, anyone can file a case with the court challenging its legality that will ultimately create legal complications,” he said. Read Election can't be fair amid unrestrained violence: GM Quader “But it is now a million-dollar question as to how the caretaker government system can be restored lawfully. It’s not impossible to find out a suitable solution if only the major political parties reach an understanding,” he observed. Malik, also a constitutional expert, said Justice Shahabuddin could become the head of the caretaker government without any constitutional amendment as political parties had an understanding in 1990. He also recalled the election of 1954 held in then East Pakistan where the United Front, led by Awami Muslim League, got a landslide victory by bagging 228 seats out of 309 ones. ”This election was held under the home ministry of the then Muslim League government as there was no Election Commission in place. So, everything is possible if there’s an agreement among the political parties in the greater interests of the nation.” Read BNP-Jamaat fielded '300 cadres' as local government election officers ahead of 2007 polls: Joy Dr Asif Nazrul, a law professor at the Dhaka University and a constitutional expert, said political issues can be solved in two ways--through political negotiation or through a mass movement. “The caretaker government was established in 1990 following a mass movement and later BNP included it in the constitution, showing an attitude of compromise in the face of Awami League’s movement in 1996,” he said. Dr Asif said there is scope for someone to challenge if the constitution is amended to reinstate the caretaker government. “But if there is political consensus, no problem will arise. So far no one has challenged how Justice Shahabuddin became the head of caretaker government beyond the constitution just because of political consensus.” Read Anti-govt Movement: BNP initiates 2nd phase of talks Meanwhile, Law Minister Anisul Huq said there is no scope to go back to the caretaker government system in Bangladesh as the apex court of the country has declared the system illegal. Many other ruling party leaders and ministers, including Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, have long been saying that BNP’s dream of restoring the polls-time government will go in vain.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has said to be accepted by the people, the next parliamentary elections must be held under a non-partisan caretaker government. Fakhrul said this while speaking as chief guest at a discussion program held in memory of late BNP leader ASM Hannan Shah on his 6th death anniversary in Gazipur’s Kapashia on Friday afternoon. “Our movement has begun, and it will continue till the current government steps down. The next general election won’t be free and fair with the Awami League (AL) in power. That’s why we’re asking for a caretaker government, and we won’t let any other type of election take place this time,” said Fakhrul. Fakhrul added that the country's judiciary is completely controlled by the executive, i.e. AL government ministers. “While gamblers, robbers and killers are getting bail easily under this government, our leader Khaleda Zia has been languishing in false cases. The AL fears that people will come to the streets and topple the government if Khaleda Zia comes out on bail. That’s why they’re doing everything they can to keep our leader away from the public,” Fakhrul added. Read: BNP to unveil polls-time govt formula at 'appropriate' time: Fakhrul During his speech, the BNP leader also came down heavily on AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader. “Quader has been shouting against the caretaker government. I want to ask him, why is he afraid? He is afraid because he thinks that his party won’t be able to come to power if the election is held under a caretaker government. Our demand is also clear, either a non-partisan caretaker government or no election at all,” said Fakhrul. The discussion was presided over by Fazlul Haque Milon, President of Gazipur district BNP, and was conducted by Khandaker Azizur Rahman Pera, General Secretary of Kapashia upazila BNP. Shah Riazul Hannan, General Secretary of Gazipur district BNP and Khayrul Kabir Khokon, Joint Secretary General of the party’s central command, among others, spoke at the event.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Sunday said they have no problem taking tea with the prime minister at her office if she accepts the party’s demand for the caretaker government to oversee the next polls. “You first say that you’re accepting the caretaker government system. You come up with this announcement and then we'll have no problem having tea at the Prime Minister’s Office,” he said responding to PM Sheikh Hasina’s offer made on Saturday. Speaking at a discussion, the BNP leader said the formation of a representative parliament and government having accountability to people is the only solution to the country’s current political and economic crisis. The Association of Engineers, Bangladesh arranged the programme on the ongoing crisis in the power and energy sector at the Jatiya Press Club. He also said the country is now facing an economic crisis caused by widespread corruption as the government is not accountable to people. “So, we would like to say, there is no point in making a blunt comment like offering tea. We would like to say one thing that you step down handing over power to a non-party neutral government and pave the way for an acceptable and inclusive election under a new election commission and thus take back Bangladesh,” the BNP leader said pointing at the PM. Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she would offer BNP leaders tea if they come to besiege her office (Prime Minister's Office). "I will listen to them – whatever they want to say. I believe in democracy," she said while speaking at a meeting of Awami League's Dhaka North and South units. Fakhrul said they are in talks with political parties to forge unity for ensuring the fall of the Awami League government. “We must be united to get rid of the awful regime. I urge the country’s people to get united for defeating the current government through a street movement and thus materialise the dreams of the country’s Liberation War,” he said. Read: Accept election-time govt demand or face ouster: Fakhrul to AL About the power crisis, the BNP leader said the government has increased the power generation capacity without thinking of the sources of fuel and energy needed for it. "Unfortunately, this government wants us to wear shoes that are much bigger than what they need. As a result, they are now unable to walk and getting stumbled. They take steps for quick rental power plants and nuclear power plants for power generation, but they didn’t think about where the fuel will come from,” he observed. Stating that 51 per cent of fuel for power generation comes from gas, he said the government has not made any step for exploring it in the last 15 years. “They have been in power for 15 years. In these 15 years, they have only focused on how to plunder thousands of crores of taka and siphoned it off abroad.” Fakhrul alleged that country and its people are facing an economic crisis for the misdeeds of the government. “Their (govt’s) corruption, looting, incapability and failure all together have made people’s lives miserable in Bangladesh.” He said the ruling party leaders bragged about turning Bangladesh into Malaysia, Canada and San Francisco, but the poverty rate in the country has increased to 40-42 per cent. People are now unable to manage two meals a day. Even, 21 per cent of people in some districts of Bangladesh, including Kurigram, Gaibandha and Sunamganj, cannot eat two meals a day.” The BNP leader said the ruling party leaders are now making reckless comments due to the economic crisis amid the decline in the flow of remittances. He alleged that people in rural areas are hit hard by the frequent power outages. “The load-shedding is highest in the rural areas as the government wants to keep the people of cities happy with fewer power outages, but it will hamper crop production and put the food security at stake.”
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal on Monday refused to comment over the oppositions’ demand for restoration of caretaker government saying it is not the business of the commission. “We have no comment on the demands of the opposition as the issue of the caretaker government or other various governments is not our business. This is a constitutional issue. If political leaders agree, they will consider it,” he said. The CEC was replying to a question over the election-time government when he talked to reporters after a meeting with Transparency International Bangladesh at the Nirbachan Bhaban in the city. He said the government that will be there during the polls is the election-time government. The election-time government would not work on policy. “Our interaction with that government will increase. A minister is not of the party. We want them to cooperate with us,” he added. READ: CEC: Not fully confident over EVM yet The CEC said the government is obliged to cooperate with the Election Commission as per laws. “We’ll seek cooperation from the government in all the elections and of course we hope that the government will cooperate,” he said. Habibul Awal hoped that the government which would be there during the election would behave like a polls-time government as they took oath to perform the responsibility neutrally in line with the Constitution and won’t show partiality. “I believe that they (ministers of the election-time government) know their oath. They will behave like the election-government for the sake of arrangement of at least a fair election. As a minister of the government not of a party, they would behave,” he said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud on Friday said the election will be held under the Election Commission during the present government in line with the Constitution like all other democratic countries across the world. “BNP will gain no benefit in dreaming for the restoration of caretaker government,” he said, replying to a question from journalists. Also read: AL wants election with participation of all parties: Hasan Mahmud The minister was talking to reporters before joining the 11th biennial conference of the Entomological Society at the Agricultural Research Council’s auditorium in the city’s Khamarbari area. “If BNP makes ill-attempts to create chaos in the name of movement, it (anarchy) will be resisted taking the people with us,” he said. About BNP's demand for caretaker government, Hasan said no government resigns before the election in all the democratic countries like India, Japan, Australia, Europe and even the USA. He said BNP tried to thwart the 2014 election, but failed. In 2018, it also raised the same demand, but finally participated in the general election forging an alliance of many parties and secured only five seats (in Parliament). “So, I would like to tell them to take preparation for the next election without making useless rhetoric,” said Hasan, also a joint general secretary of Bangladesh Awami League. Asked about BNP’s possible movement to overthrow the government, he said, “We’ve been hearing about the movement for the fall of the government for the last 13 years.” Also read: Election will be held on time: Quader “If they try to create chaos, carry out arson violence or burn people in the name of the movement as they did before, it will be resisted taking the people with us,” he said. In the conference, the minister stressed the need for saving the agricultural lands in the country. The arable lands should not be lost due to unplanned urbanization and construction of structures everywhere in unplanned ways. He said Bangladesh has multiplied its crop production due to agricultural research. “This trend must continue on the path of development,” he added. Chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council Dr Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar and Director General of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) Dr Debashish Sarkar, among others, spoke at the conference. President of Entomological Society Dr Syed Nurul Alam presided over the function moderated by its general secretary Dr Md Mizanur Rahman, said a PID handout.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said BNP is responsible for destroying the caretaker government system and there is now no scope to restore it. “BNP has destroyed the caretaker government system and they tried to come to power forcibly. There is no scope to come to power through the backdoor,” he told reporters after inaugurating a cath lab at Mount Adora Hospital in Sylhet. Read: BNP-Jamaat hired lobbyists to stop US development assistance to Bangladesh: Momen Momen said BNP was formed in a democratic way, while Awami League, being a democratic party, has established and consolidated democracy in the country. If the BNP wants to come to power it has to come through the election process, he said. The minister also hoped that a transparent Election Commission will be formed to hold a free and fair election. Noting that many countries don’t have election commission, Momen said Bangladesh has such a body to make voting free and transparent.
BNP should cooperate in the formation of a neutral election commission instead of bothering about an impartial caretaker government during the next general election, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said on Wednesday. Quader was addressing virtually the triennial conference of Tongibari Upazila Awami League in Munshiganj district. He said that all affairs related to election are placed under the Election Commission which is empowered to take any action to make the balloting free and fair. He said the election-time government carries out only routine duties and assist the EC in holding a peaceful free and fair election. Read: Next neutral national poll to be held on time: Quader Quader trashed BNP leader Fakhrul Islam Alamgir’s recent comment that people will vote for BNP to get rid of Awami League’s misrule. “The reality is that people have voted for Awami League to free them from BNP misrule,” he said. He said people are happy with the rule of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. “They will not allow them to be trapped by BNP again,” he said. Read: Work for the people’s welfare, not for personal gain, Quader asks AL members Quader said voters have turned away from the BNP long ago and this has become clear in the recent by-elections and local government polls too. Awami League presidium member Dr Abdur Razzak, organizing secretary Mirza Azam, liberation war affairs secretary Mrinal Kanti Das, legal affairs secretary Najibullah Hiru, MP Sagufta Yasmin Emily, among others, also addressed the council.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Sunday said there is no chance to start a fresh debate over caretaker government as it has already been settled by the court. “The caretaker government system was sent to the museum through a court order in 2011. There’s no chance for any debate over it as it’s a settled issue,” said Quader. Read: BNP sitting out polls for 'fear of losing': Quader The minister came up with the remarks while talking to reporters after the handover of lease documents of plots allotted at rehabilitation sites among the victims of Padma Multipurpose Bridge construction project. He urged all to take preparations for the national election saying that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wants a peaceful election in the country. “Take preparations for the election without creating any chaos.” Read: Govt. mulls tunnel under Padma River between Daulatdia and Paturia: Quader “Democracy in our country has flourished to some extent, though it’s a slow process. A neutral election commission will be constituted through a search committee for holding fair elections,” said the minister.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Saturday said their party will not accept the upcoming national election unless it is held under a" neutral government". "Our stance is very clear there would be no more game in the name of an election. The election must be held under a neutral government and to be conducted by a neutral election commission,” he said. Speaking at a discussion, the BNP leader also said, “We won’t accept any election if there’s no polls-time neutral government and an impartial election commission." BNP arranged the programme at the Institution of Engineers’, Bangladesh. Read: BNP policymakers in another closed-door meeting Stating that the days of the current government are numbered, Fakhrul urged Awami League to try to read public minds and understand the writings on the walls. “That means quit power after making the provision of the polls-time caretaker government and let people exercise their right to vote.” He called upon BNP leaders and activists to be organised and get ready for a street movement instead of creating chaos for having party posts. “This is the only way left for us. It won’t be possible to remove the current monstrous regime without a mass movement and mass uprising. So, we’ve to unite all our people, unite all the political forces to take place a mass uprising,” the BNP leader said, pointing at the party rank and file. Read: BNP plans series of party central leaders’ meetings He said Awami League has become politically bankrupt losing public support for its ”misdeeds and repressive acts. They (AL) know they won’t even get 30 seats if any election is held in a free and fair manner. That’s why they have politicised all the state institutions.” Fakhrul also alleged that the government has established its control over the judiciary, administration, law enforcement agencies and the media. “So, the entire nation is unable to speak up and exercise their freedom of expression.”