The upazila chairmen and vice-chairmen began a ‘fast unto deat’h at Muktangan Saturday morning to press home their 10-point demand, including making upazila parishads functional.
Nearly 300 upazila chairmen and vice-chairmen under the banner of Bangladesh Upazila Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Oikya Parishad are staging the hunger strike.
Former president Hussein Muhammad Ershad, also chairman of ruling alliance partner Jatiya Party, who visited the hunger striking local government representatives and expressed solidarity with their cause, urged the prime minister to fulfill their demands.
‘The government is yet to allow the elected local government representatives to exercise the power they are supposed to enjoy,’ said Ershad who introduced upazila parishad system during his regime. He regretted that the powers at the local tier were enjoyed by the government officials instead of the upazila chairmen and vice-chairmen.
Workers’ Party president Rashed Khan Menon and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president Hasanul Haque Inu, Gano Forum agriculture affairs secretary advocate SMA Sabur, Jatiya Shramik Jote president Shirin Akhter and Jatiya Krishak Party president Saifur Rahman also visited the local government representatives and expressed solidarity with them.
Addressing the gathering, the parishad’s president, advocate Abdul Majid Photo, said they would continue the fast unto death until the government high-ups visit them and assure them of fulfilling their demands.
He said it was a shame that the elected representatives had been compelled to take to the streets to press their legitimate demands.
He alleged that the law passed by parliament in 2009 to make the Upazila Parishads functional could not yet be implemented due to bureaucratic red tape and the lawmakers’ reluctance to share power.
The government talks about strengthening the local government bodies, but is making the situation difficult, he alleged, adding that 13 departments under 10 ministries were yet to be handed over to the Upazila Parishads.