BNP, allies protest against 'one-sided' election schedule

The protests in the capital come a day after the Election Commission set Jan 7 for the general election

Published : 16 Nov 2023, 10:05 AM
Updated : 16 Nov 2023, 10:05 AM

The BNP and its allies have held protests across Dhaka over the announcement of what they said was a ‘one-sided election schedule’.

The BNP held demonstrations in Rampura, Malibagh, Wari, and Motijheel, while its student wing Chhatra League held marches in Sayedabad and Segunbagicha.

The Ganatantra Mancha and the Gana Odhikar Parishad held processions on Bijoynagar Road and the LDP and Left Democratic Alliance held protests at Purana Paltan.

The BNP’s headquarters in Naya Paltan remains locked. Police personnel are lined up in rows on either side of the offices. Police have been in the area since the offices were locked amid violence surrounding a rally in the area on Oct 28.

Ganatantra Mancha leaders and activists gathered at the Paltan intersection in Bijoynagar before marching through the area and holding a brief rally in front of the Jatiya Press Club. The protesters then marched again to the Paltan intersection before ending the programme.

Junaid Saki, the chief convener of Ganasanghati Andolan, said at the rally that Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal, appointed by the government, would always do their bidding. "That was proven yesterday.”

“The chief election commissioner said yesterday that the election is a constitutional obligation and the commission must announce the schedule. And yet he said a few days ago that there was no proper election atmosphere. The constitution also states that an election schedule can be stayed and the polls postponed if there isn’t an appropriate atmosphere.”

CEC Awal has established himself as "an agent of the government", Junaid Saki alleged, adding that the party did not accept such a one-sided election or such a schedule.

“Our agitation and blockade will continue. The Ganatantra Mancha has called a morning to evening hartal and it is going on. People are taking part spontaneously. On my way here, a CNG driver told me that he was forced to take to the streets today to put food on the table, but that he would have given his all to this agitation if he could have.”

Saki said the government could not suppress the ongoing movement through violence, sabotage, or arrests of opposition party leaders and activists.

“The people do not accept this schedule for one-sided elections announced by the chief election commissioner while ignoring the demands of the people to implement the government’s plans,” said Shaheed Uddin Mahmud Swapan, general secretary of the JSD. “These blueprints of their election conspiracy will not work.”

“The workers and the people of the country are our strength. With their strength, we will bring down this government.”