Announcing a grand rally in the capital on 28 October, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said it was time for the government to make a safe, dignified exit.
“We will not go home without ousting this government. There will be many obstacles. But our programme will be peaceful, and through that, we will oust the government. Make a safe exit with respect, else there will be dire consequences,” he warned while addressing the protest rally held in front of the party’s central office in Nayapaltan on Wednesday (18 October).
The rally demanded government’s resignation, restoration of caretaker government and permanent release of BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia.
BNP standing committee members and other leaders addressed the rally that started at 2:00pm.
Mirza Fakhrul asked the government to decide by 28 October whether it will take a safe exit by quitting power or will get ousted by people.
“There’re a few more days ahead. Decide what you will do within the holidays of the (Durga) Puja. Decide whether you’ll resign and take a safe exit with self-respect or will be driven out by the people,” the BNP leader said.
He called upon the government to try to understand the body language of the people and peacefully hand over power to a non-partisan government for the sake of a credible national election.
“You (PM) take the message from this public rally that people no longer want to see you in power. I repeat, step down with dignity by handing over power to a neutral and non-partisan government for conducting the election in a credible manner,” Fakhrul said.
Otherwise, he warned, the people have woken up to ensure the fall of the government.
Fakhrul hinted that the opposition will announce a series of action programmes on 28 October.
“After the grand rally, Inshallah, we won’t stop until the fall of this regime,” he told the opposition supporters.
The BNP leader said the grand rally will be arranged as part of the simultaneous movement. “We–all political parties–who are on the simultaneous movement will make this programme a success.”
“It’ll be a peaceful programme. We’ll ensure the fall of this terrorist Awami League regime that has been creating chaos in the country,” he said.
Fakhrul, however, warned the BNP leaders and activists that the government may create many hurdles and obstacles ahead of the grand rally.
Fakhrul said the government has been trying to confuse people by carrying out various false campaigns by using social media as it could realise that people are not with it.
He also said the government has also been resorting to various evil tactics sensing its imminent fall. “The people now don’t get confused by the government’s false campaigns.”
The BNP leader said the government has arrested over 250 BNP leaders and activists ahead of the BNP’s rally in fear of losing power.
“The government began to tremble in fear of the people. The more the end of their tenure is approaching, the more they are getting afraid. That’s why more than our 250 leaders and workers have been arrested involving this rally,” he said.
The BNP leader also said their party’s around 96 leaders have already been convicted in different cases ahead of the next national election. “The government is thinking of clearing the field by disqualifying our leaders for the election through sentencing them. How afraid this government is as they’ve taken such measures!”
He said the government could not demoralise the BNP leaders and activists by repressing, arresting and sentencing them.
The BNP leader said it is a fact the government will not be able to suppress people and the movement with repressive acts and arresting and jailing the opposition leaders and activists. “The sooner the government will realise it the better it will be for them to take the safe exit.”
Fakhrul said the government is showing the constitution as an excuse for holding the election under a partisan government after illegally amending the constitution.
He said Awami League talks about the constitution, but it always violates the charter.
The BNP leader said although the president is not in the country, no one has been given his responsibility in line with the constitution.
“The country is now without a president as no one has been given the charge in his absence…It’s illegal and unconstitutional. Even, if the government talks about the constitution, it does not follow the main points of the constitution.”
Stating that he went to visit their party chief at Evercare Hospital on Tuesday night, Fakhrul said physicians were worried about her health condition as there was no option left in the country for her treatment.
He said the government is so brutal and inhumane that it is not allowing Khaleda to go abroad for advanced treatment to save her life.
Speaking at the event, BNP Standing Committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury said the party will not sit for any discussions until the current government resigns.”BNP certainly believes in talks, but not before Sheikh Hasina leaves power,” he said.”Make a decision during the Puja holidays and resign. Then we will discuss the election,” Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury added.
BNP standing committee member Mirza Abbas said the current government has become desperate to cling to power by restoring repressive acts as it lost ground beneath its feet.
Referring to Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader’s warning to BNP of facing more dire consequences than Hefajat’s Shapla Chattar rally, Abbas said their party has no plan to abruptly sit in on the streets. “We’ll be there on the streets with our programmes.”
He also said Quader has admitted with his comment that the government carried out massacres and killings at Shapla Chattar during Hefajat’s rally.
Trashing Quader’s threat, the BNP leader said Hefajat and BNP are not the same as their party was in power with the mandate of people through elections.
Thousands of leaders and activists of BNP and its associate bodies rally with processions carrying banners, festoons, placards, and portraits of the party’s top leaders from different parts of Dhaka.
The roads and alleys stretching from Fakirerpool to Bijoynagar were packed with BNP activists, halting traffic in the area. The expanding rally crowd spilled over onto nearby streets and spaces.