DHAKA: Ahead of the January 7 general elections in Bangladesh, the main opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), issued a call for a 48-hour nationwide ‘hartal’ (general strike) commencing on Saturday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s “illegal government,” the Dhaka Tribune reported.
Under the leadership of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, the BNP has decided to boycott the general election scheduled for Sunday. The party is advocating for the formation of an interim non-party neutral government to oversee the election, a demand that has been rebuffed by the government led by Prime Minister Hasina.
The BNP will carry out processions, mass campaigns and distribute leaflets against the polls across the country, as reported by the Dhaka Tribune.
Moreover, the second day of the hartal coincides with the election, which has already gathered global attention.
BNP Joint Senior Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi announced the programs on Thursday afternoon in a virtual press briefing. He further said that the hartal will begin at 6 am on Saturday and end at 6 am on Monday.
Meanwhile, the BNP’s like-minded parties will observe the programmes simultaneously.
The demands by the BNP include the resignation of the government, the release of its leaders and activists arrested since late October, and the unconditional release of party chief Khaleda Zia.
Soon after Rizvi’s announcement, the Liberal Democratic Party also said that it would go on a strike for 48 hours starting at 6 am on Saturday, Dhaka Tribune reported.
It will be the fifth spell of hartals by the BNP and like-minded parties since October 29. The opposition parties enforced countrywide blockades for 23 days in 12 phases over the period.
The BNP came up with the call for a non-cooperation movement on December 20, which led to the continued mass campaigns and distribution of leaflets.
Rizvi further said that their programme is meant to drum up public support in favour of the party’s call to boycott the January 7 election.
Reportedly, he is also wanted by the police for campaigning against the election, according to Dhaka Tribune.
Earlier on Thursday, the BNP leader urged the people to boycott the “one-sided and dummy election as it will put the country into trouble.”
Later in the day, leaders of the 12-party alliance marched in the capital’s Paltan area, where they circulated anti-poll leaflets too. Moreover, they also held a brief rally in front of the National Press Club.
In another development, BNP Standing Committee Member Abdul Moyeen Khan, pointing at the Awami League, said, “A government can retain power by cheating the people.”
“But the Awami League government will have to step down today or tomorrow,” he added. He was addressing a rally of the Bangladesh Sammilito Peshajibi Parishad, a pro-BNP organisation of professionals, near the press club, reported the Dhaka Tribune.
Meanwhile, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on Thursday made an impassioned appeal and urged the people to exercise their voting rights in Sunday’s election to prove that democracy prevails in Bangladesh. (ANI)