Govt must start dialogue: Fakhrul
It is the government that should reinitiate a dialogue, the BNP’s acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has said.
His comment came as a response to senior Awami League leader Mohammad Nasim’s statement that the ball for dialogue is now in the Opposition’s court.
“Why should we call?” retorted Fakhrul in a press conference at BNP’s central office in Naya Paltan on Monday.
“The government has to start the discussion. Otherwise, we will be led to believe they do not have the sincerity or the wish for a dialogue.”
The 18-Party alliance is enforcing a 60-hour shutdown the BNP Chairperson announced from a rally Oct 25. Opposition chief Khaleda Zia had said they will enforce the strike if the government did not extend an offer for dialogue in two days.
The BNP has been campaigning for non-party poll-time government ever since the 15 amendment to the Constitution scrapped the caretaker provision.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called the BNP chief the next day, and after failing to reach her once, had a 37-minute conversation on Saturday.
Hasina invited the Leader of the Opposition for a dinner dialogue at Ganabhaban on Monday evening but Khaleda refused saying she will be ready only after the lockdown ended, much to the dismay of the government.
Fakhrul said, “The Prime Minister has started discussion with her party’s allies over the formation of the all-party poll-time government at her official residence Ganabhaban.”
“As part of that, she phoned the Leader of the Opposition on Saturday evening. It should be clarified (whether it is true or not), he said.
“We are ready to sit for talks with the government only if they agree on the non-party caretaker government,” he asserted..
The government was apparently not sincere about talks as they were arresting and torturing Opposition party leaders and activists, the senior BNP leader alleged.
Asked about media report in which the Prime Minister Office had sought the menu from the Leader of the Opposition, he said it was designed to confuse the people by making the important matter–dialogue –unimportant.”
HT Imam, who advises the Prime Minister on public administration affairs, said at a television talk show on Sunday night that Khaleda had ‘said’ ‘freedom fighters committed genocide,’ during her telephone conversation with the Prime Minister.
Replying to a reporters query about Imam’s statement, the BNP’s spokesperson claimed, “I am lost of words in offering a response to such a concocted statement.”
When Fakhrul asked for the source of the information, journalists referred to the talk show aired on ATN Bangla and the report internet newspaper said ran based on the television programme.
“It is the version of ATN Bangla. It is completely concocted. Please, let there be no more talk of this,” said Fakhrul.
He called on the government to stop “oppressing the Opposition” and take an affective initiative for starting dialogue to set political uncertainties to rest.
BNP Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Dhaka City BNP Member Secretary Abdus Salam were among others who were present at the press conference.