“We have to build a prosperous Bangladesh and move a long way ahead,” said the exiled elder son of the BNP chief Khaleda Zia.
“This forward march needs to be swift and our aim should be precise,” the BNP's Senior Vice Chairman told a gathering at Guomon Hotel on Wednesday local time.
This was his third public appearance -- second at a party event-- in recent months after a relatively obscure time spent away from public glare in exile in the UK since 2009.
Tarique said establishing a ‘neutral caretaker’ government is more important than organising an election currently.
On Wednesday, he effectively announced an election manifesto of sorts for the BNP by upholding his development-plans for seven sectors he feels are criticial for Bangladesh.
At the beginning of his 45-minute speech, Tarique said he would not talk about any political issue except the demand for revival of the caretaker system to oversee the upcoming general election.
He paused every now and than and asked for reactions from his supporters on what he said. But, everyone in the gathering cheered as he announced his plans with none left to differ.
“Our spirit and accountability should be focused on the future, not linger in the past,” he said. “Our future won’t be much bright if we stick to the old conventional system of running the state."
“We have to inspire modernism, accept versatility,” Tarique told his audience.
A good number of expatriates including the party’s UK chapter President Shaista Chowdhury Kuddus and Secretary General Koysor M Ahmed attended the gathering.
Tarique stressed the need for ‘change’ in political culture to develop Bangaldesh.
On May 21, he appeared at a programme to urge his supporters to vigorously press the government to agree to the opposition’s demand for a caretaker government.
His statements had kicked up a political storm in Bangladesh.
He was present at the launch on June 26 of his book ‘Political thought’, put together by 17 contributors, mostly fellow party colleagues but two foreigners as well, but he did not speak.
Accused in a number of cases including for corruption, Tarique left for London in 2008 on bail to seek medical treatment and has not returned since.
Widely believed to have run a government parallel to his mother’s 2001-6 administration, he was considered the most powerful politician in Bangladesh until the 2007 state of emergency.
A Dhaka court had issued an arrest warrant for him in a money laundering case, which the BNP claims is ‘politically motivated’.
With over a dozen cases against his name, party supporters are still enthusiastic about his return.
The BNP has said Tarique would return ‘soon’ as per his doctors’ advice.
In his speech, he spoke of his views on an array of national issues including agriculture, industry and education sectors.
The 48-year-old advocated for increased farm subsidy and supported the rearrangement of import and distribution of three key ingredients — seedling and seed, manure and pesticide, and instruments.
Tarique said a market system where 10-15 percent benefit is added up to the production cost should be developed. “An independent, agriculture-friendly pricing commission should be formed.”
The BNP leader observed Bangladesh should pay attention to agriculture and development. He also advocated improving the lifestyle of the farmers, revitalising Bangladesh Krishi Bank to make capital available to the farmers and creating an agriculture database.
Tarique believed it was time to reassess the tests and evaluation system to nurture creativity in the education sector.
He favoured introducing new subjects in the national curriculum and subjects-based education system. The BNP leader felt technical education system needed to be expanded to modernise institutionalised education.
He believed students should study other languages like Chinese and French along with English.
He also observed the yearly readymade garment income can exceed USD 45 billion mark from the current USD 22 billion if Bangladesh moves ahead with a plan and adds more verities in products.
His forth plan is to put accent on the information and communication technology sector to keep up with the modern world.
“There’s a huge employment opportunity in the information technology sector. We have to tap it.
“I believe our youths have the talent and skills to work with companies like Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel, Sony, and LG.”
He also talked about his plans to bring the business like the ones being run in Dholaikhal where industries have opened up to manufacture equipments under government patronisation.
Tarique then spoke of plans to set up an in IT park in Bangladesh where local and multinational companies will work together on research and development of software and hardware.
He would prefer connecting Bangladesh with a second submarine cable network for a more vibrant ICT sector and lower bandwidth costs to make internet connections widely available.
He said it would be possible to take the remittance to $20 billion from current $14 billion within five years by creating a skilled manpower.
Tarique also shed lights on his plan to develop Bangladesh’s tourism sector and turning Cox’s Bazar as ‘Silicon Beach City’ and the Sundarbans as ‘Safari Park’.
He also informs those present at the programme his plan over the alternate source of water and urbanisation.
These initiatives, according to him, would push the jobless rate below 10 million from 30 million.
“The number of workers will rise to nearly 80 million.
“I believe the number of people living below the poverty line would come down below 10 percent from 31 percent.”