Urges govt to cancel Rampal Thermal Power Plant project
Leader of the main opposition and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia on Sunday sought the cooperation of people from all walks of life, including the civil and military administration, to force the government to quit if it does not accept the demand for a non-party poll-time government.
Addressing a mammoth rally in Khulna city, the former prime minister categorically said that her party would resist any move to hold the next election under the present Awami League government.
“I urge Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to accept our demand. If the government does not accept our demand for a non-party and neutral poll-time government by October 25, we shall start intensive movements to compel the government to accept our demand. There will be no election under this government. There will be no election under Hasina,”she said, amid thunderous applause.
The opposition leader also said that her party would not allow the government to set up the controversial power plant at Rampal on the fringes of the Sundarbans.
Urging the government to cancel the proposed Rampal Thermal Power Plant, she said the government should revoke the plant and set it up at a suitable place to meet the country’s prevailing power crisis.
“The bio-diversity of the forest would be jeopardised and the water of its adjacent rivers would be polluted, resulting in destruction of aquatic lives,” she added.
She urged the people, including the inhabitants of Bagherhat and Khulna, to resist the government’s initiative to set up the plant.
Referring to the road march, carried out by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral resources, Power and Ports, she said, “We are with you. We would extend all-out support as we want to work together for the greater national interest.”
The former PM said power scarcity is a serious problem in the country but the government has set up quick rental power plants to solve the issue. “The government made quick bucks in the name of setting up quick rental power plants,” she added.
In her nearly one-hour-long speech, Khaleda dealt with issues related to government’s failure, law and order situation, corruption and her party’s pledges to people. She also pointed out that the current Parliament will end with its last business day on October 25. Regarding the CG system, the BNP chief said that the Awami League had waged movements, demanding introduction of the CG system, which was not in the country’s Constitution at that time, but the BNP government was interested in the provision complying with the people’s demand.
“Since its inception, several parliamentary polls had been held under the system. Both the BNP and the AL came to power participating in election under CG system. But why has the AL now erased the provision from the constitution,” she asked.
“The AL frequently refers to the judiciary saying the court has erased the CG system. But the AL does not say anything about the court’s observation to hold the next two terms’ election under the CG provision,” she added.
Khalea Zia, however, made it clear that her party would not participate in the next parliamentary polls under the Hasina administration.
“In 2007, KM Hasan, the former chief justice, became the chief of then CG as per the constitution. Though Hasan was not a political figure, Sheikh Hasina did not take part in the election under his administration,” she said.
“We would not only take part in the election under the Hasina administration but also stop the election with all our might,” she added. “If the next election is held under the CG system, the AL will face crushing defeat,” she asserted.
Slamming the ruling party for politicising the administration, judiciary and armed forces, she said, “The concerned authorities would carry out Hasina’s directives if the next election is held keeping Hasina as the head of the election-time government.”
Referring to the AL leader’s threat to the government officials to force them to retire if they do not carry out the government’s directives during election, she said that the government officials should not get panicky over losing their jobs. “If you have to lose your job for taking the side of people, we shall reinstate you,” she pledged.
“We do not want to sack anybody as the BNP does not believe in the politics of vengeance,” she said.
“I have visited different parts of the country and seen sparks of anger in people’s eyes. If our demand for CG is not met, the government would have face people’s wrath,” she warned.
Criticising the scope and capacity of the Election commission (EC), she said, “It has turned into a useless organ. This commission will not be able to hold a free and fair election as it has failed to prepare a fresh and authentic voters’ list.”
“The AL has appointed all the commissioners on political grounds but the PM has claimed that a fair election is possible under the partisan commission,” she said. “The country is now being governed by those who are looting all the possessions and valuables of people,” Khaleda said adding that the present government had failed miserably to fulfil its election promises.
She said if voted to power her government would turn Khulna into a modern city with sufficient utility facility.
The BNP-led 18-party alliance organised the rally with Nurul Islam Manjur MP, the president of the Khulna city unit in the chair.
BNP leaders Tariqul Islam, Mirza Abbas, Abdul Moeen Khan, Sadeque Hossain Khoka, Khulna City mayor Moniruzzaman, Shamsuzzaman Dudu, Barkat Ullah Bulu, Mizanur Rahman Minu, Mabbub Uddin Khokan spoke at the programme.
Alliance leaders including JAGAPA chief Shafiqul Alam Prodhan, Islami Oikya Jote leader Abdul Latif Nezami, Khelafat Majlish leader Mohammad Ishak, Liberal Democratic Party chief Mostafizur Rahman Iran and others addressed the programme.
Since early in the morning, there was a steady inflow of people to the Khulna Circuit House maidan, which was the destination of people. By 11 am, crowd swelled and there was not an inch of land where one could set foot. But such was the hysteria that still thousands of people, braving the afternoon rain, were still seen heading for the venue to have a glimpse of their favourite leader Khaleda Zia.
At 4.15 pm, when Khaleda Zia reached the venue, she came face to face with a sea of humanity waiting to hear from her with baited breath. Her 50-minute speech drew thunderous cheers and could well be said as historic as it was the biggest gathering the city has seen in recent times.
“I have never seen such a mammoth gathering in the last 15 years,” said Shubhas Chandra, the manager of French Arcade, a shopping complex very close to the ground. He added that all rallies during previous elections were smaller than this.
The entire gathering stretched over three square km area from Shibbari in the west to Custom Ghat in the east and Jailkhana Ghat in the north to Tutpara graveyard in the south.
Workers and leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and other Islamic parties were also present. They raised slogans against the misrule of the present government and demanded a halt to the trial of their leaders for war crimes. They also demanded immediate release of their central leaders who are in jail for a long time. The Islamic party leaders, in their speech, termed the present government as anti-Islamic and pro-Indian. They called upon the people not to cast their votes in favour of the Awami League-led 14-Party Alliance.
Joining the rally, leaders and activists claimed that the turnout was bigger than that of PM Sheikh Hasina’s rally on January 24 in Khulna at the same venue.
The entire city wore a festive look as it was decorated with hundreds of arches, portraits of party leaders, colourful banners, festoons, posters and placards to welcome BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia.
The Khulna Circuit House Maidan and its adjoining areas were teeming with people as party men from different upazilas of Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Jessore, Narail, Magura Chuadanga, Jhenaidah, Kustia, Meherpur and Gopalgong districts joined the rally.
The city became virtually paralyzed as vehicular movement in the strategic points of the city was almost suspended from early in the morning till the evening. Most shops and business houses in the nearby areas downed shutters. Those who couldn’t make it to the venue were seen sitting on pavements, lanes and by-lanes in the adjoining areas so that they could hear Khaleda’s speech.
The commuters, particularly students and office-goers, had a harrowing time as public transport vehicles were engaged in carrying supporters and activists from different parts of the city to the rally premises. Noor Islam (65), a resident of Putimari village under Assasuni upazila of Satkhira, said, “I have come here spontaneously to listen to the important speech of Khaleda Zia.”
Firoza Akter Bithi, a women wing leader of BNP upazila unit who took part in the rally, said, “The chairperson’s meeting has upheld the spirit of the party activists. They will now devote themselves more to party activities.”
-With The Independent input