Law-enforcement agencies in Bangladesh are prepared to thwart any violent protest from BNP over the election schedule for the 12th general election, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan says.
The minister shrugged off talk of civil war in the country. “A civil war occurs only when the odds are 50-50,” he said.
After setting the date for Biswa Ijtema in a meeting with Islamic scholars at the Secretariat on Wednesday, he said: “Our security forces are sufficiently prepared. They are doing their job.”
Amid street protests by the opposition BNP and its allies, the Election Commission announced the schedule of the parliamentary polls, with the voting slated for Jan 7.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal made the announcement in an address to the nation broadcast on TV and radio in the evening.
On the clashes between police and BNP activists on Oct 28, Asaduzzaman said: “Police handled the situation with extreme patience. Our security forces are very skilled and can tackle any challenge.”
The BNP has launched protests mirroring its 2014 efforts, and violence has erupted across the country. Arson attacks on vehicles and sabotage incidents have again become a major cause for public concern.
The BNP is observing another 48-hour blockade for Wednesday and Thursday. This is the fifth round of blockades they have called.
When the likelihood of the BNP enforcing more blockades over the election schedule was brought to his attention, Asaduzzaman said: “The BNP is a political party. They carried out arson attacks in 2014 and 2015, gave rise to militancy and attempted to kill our prime minister in the grenade attack of August 21. A lot has happened here, including simultaneous bomb attacks.”
“I can clearly state that the people of this country have turned away from them [BNP]. So they will lose the election by a big margin as the public won’t vote for them. Knowing that, they’re carrying out arson attacks to take people hostage, sometimes vandalising, killing police and Ansar and vandalising the home of the chief justice and hospitals at other times,” he said.
“They’re acting in such a way because they’ve lost their connection to the people,” he added.
Mentioning that the Awami League and like-minded parties prioritise what the people want, he said: “You can only make the people suffer by conspiring and vandalising, but can never win them over by doing so.”