Claiming that people turned down Sunday’s voting, BNP on Monday demanded the cancellation of the 12th parliamentary election and the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
At a press conference at the party chairperson’s Gulshan office in Dhaka, the party also renewed its demand for a fresh election under a non-partisan polls-time government to establish a legitimate and accountable government.
To mobilise public support for their demands, BNP also announced a two-day mass contact programme for Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The country’s people unilaterally and spontaneously rejected the 'dummy election' of January 7. So, we first of all congratulate the freedom and democracy-loving people of the country on behalf of 63 pro-democracy political parties, including BNP, said the party’s Standing Committee Member Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan.
He also said that the government failed to take voters to the polling stations with various threats and intimidation. “Despite various abuses of state power, use of dummy election commission or controlled media and various excuses, the reality is that the people of the country unilaterally rejected the January 7 fake election.”
The BNP leader said there was no voting and nor an election on Sunday. “What happened was vote robbery and vote rigging. “Both the election results and the percentage of voter turnout were predetermined by the government. The Election Commission announced the percentage of voter turnout exactly as the government told. It’s a meaningless figure.”
He said they will continue their movement peacefully until an accountable and elected government is established.
Another BNP Standing Committee Member Nazrul Islam Khan said their party wanted to establish a government elected by the people’s vote and is accountable to them.
“A free and fair election is necessary for that, which did not happen yesterday. So, people have turned down this election. Everyone is saying that the voter turnout which was shown (by the EC) was fake,” he said.
“So, BNP and other political parties who have a movement on for the restoration of democracy, demand the immediate cancellation of the dummy election of January 7, resignation of Sheikh Hasina and formation of a polls-time non-partisan neutral government for holding a national election,” Nazrul further added.
He also said people’s ownership of the state must be restored and all enforced disappearances, killings, and ghost cases must be stopped and people will have to be protected from this repressive regime.
“These are now people’s demands. We congratulate and thank people as they made sacrifices in the face of various pressures and allurement and foiled the government’s evil efforts to show a huge turnout by taking them to the voting centres.
About Sunday’s election scenario, Moyeen Khan said that there were many centres across the country where not even a single vote was given throughout the day while only a handful of votes were cast in many other polling stations.
Mentioning that no vote was cast in 19 centres in Khagrachari, the BNP leader said almost every constituency in the country has centres where not even a single vote was given or only 10to 20 votes were cast throughout the day.
Moyeen said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina resorted to subterfuge to increase voter turnout in polling stations. “Awami League, unprecedentedly, fielded ‘dummy' candidates of its party against one of its nominees. But such artificial competition among themselves could not help ensure the presence of voters in the polling stations.”
He said that the people of the country believe that election under Sheikh Hasina means vote robbery and vote fraud. “Which candidate will be declared winner or defeated in this fake election was predetermined.”
Had the people believed in this government and the Election Commission, Moyeen said they would have come to the polling stations. “But the people boycotted the votes, sending out a clear message that this government and this commission are all fakes.”
About the voter turnout, he said that the commission announced it as per the estimate fixed by the government.
“People don't want North Korea-style elections… We said earlier, that there can never be a free, fair and impartial election under Sheikh Hasina. That is why, for the sake of establishing the voting rights of the country's 12 crore voters, the pro-democratic opposition parties demand that the national elections be held under a non-partisan, neutral electoral government, keeping Sheikh Hasina out of state power,” the BNP leader said.
Moyeen said their party thinks the democracy-loving people have expressed their solidarity with the demands of the opposition parties by boycotting the polling stations braving the threats and intimidation of the fascist government.
He said people gave a mass verdict in favour of the opposition’s demands by boycotting the farcical election.
“If Sheikh Hasina tries to form a government through dummy elections of January 7, it will be 'the government of the dummy by the dummy for the dummy'. People want an accountable and elected government, not a dependent dummy one.
“The statement of BNP and 63 pro-democratic political parties is clear. Even if Awami League tries to legitimise itself through farce in the name of the January 7 elections, Sheikh Hasina's government will be considered illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional by the democratic people as before,” the BNP leader added.
He said a foreign election observer hired by the government commented that Bangladesh is moving towards the North Korean system through the current electoral process.
He said the BNP believes in the power of the people. “We have taken to the streets with the people to restore the rights of the people. We were and still are on the streets and we will be there in the future until we can return the true rights of the people to the people. This is the promise of BNP.”
Moyeen said they will conduct mass contacts on Tuesday and Wednesday and then they will announce the fresh course of action.