Govt, Oikya Front dialogue shows little visible result

Dhaka, 01 Nov. The dialogue between the 14-party alliance and the National Unity Front held at prime minister’s official Ganabhaban residence Thursday evening visibly came up no visible result.AL general secretary and minister for Roads and Bridges told reporters the government side ‘agrreed to the demand for level playing field’ by offering all to freely hold meetings by paying rents of premises, and to allow international observers in the upcoming election.
On the question of release of political prisoners including BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia holding of the election under a non-partisan government, shifting of the election and reconstitution of the Election Commission, he said the government side told Oikya Front leaders they the law would take its own course and that they cannot act against the constitution.
On the question of deployment of the military with magistracy power, he said the government side made it clear that military was never deployed with such powers save the 2001 election. He told a questioner the government was ready for more talks with the Oikya Front if they want to in a smaller form.
On the question of trial and conviction of Khaleda Zia on the basis of cases filed during the last military-backed caretaker government, Quader said the said government of ‘their’ (BNP) people. About cancellation of cases filed against AL leaders during that period, he said, cases against AL leaders were inquired and dropped and dropped when bases were not found.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, when pressed, told waiting reporters, ‘We are not happy’.
Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said they had talks and would come up with a statement. Dr Kamal Hossain, leader of the Oikya Front was quoted by a TV channel to have said that it was a good meeting.
The 21-member delegation led by Dr Kamal Hossain, chief of the new political alliance, went to Ganabhaban around 6.45pm Thursday. PM Hasina entered the meeting room at 6.57pm.
While taking the seat, Hasina greeted everyone. “Ganabhaban is a place for the people. I welcome you all to today’s event,” she said.
The work of the Awami League government in the socio-economic development and the continuation of democracy would play a significant role in expediting the country’s development, she hoped.
“But this country is for all of us. Our prime goal is to change people’s fate by taking the country forward through overall development.”
“I will leave it to you to judge. Nine years and 10 months of our government have passed. You will surely consider the country’s development in this period. What I can say is that the people of Bangladesh are better-off now. Their fate has changed,” Hasina said.
The prime minister also remembered the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Liberation War martyrs. “Our only goal is to take the outcome of independence to everyone.”
The closed-door meeting started at about 7 pm after the prime minister’s opening remarks and lasted till 10-30 pm. Obaidul Quader said the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and the Prime Minister gave a patient hearing to all the opposition leaders each of who spoke more than once during the 210-minute meeting.
Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led a 23-member 14-party delegation while Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain 16-member Jatiya Oikya Front team in the discussion.
The 14-party’s 23 delegation members included 19 leaders, including the Prime Minister, from Awami League and four others from its alliance partners. The other AL leaders were Obaidul Quader, Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Matia Chowdhury, Fazlul Karim Selim, Mohammad Nasim, Abdur Razzak, Kazi Zafar Ullah, Abdul Matin Khosru, Ramesh Chandra Sen, Advocate Anisul Huq, Mahbubul Alam Hanif, Dr Dipu Moni, Jahangir Kabir Nanonk, Abdur Rahman, Abdus Sobhan Golap, Dr Hasan Mahmud and SM Rezaul Karim. The four 14-party leaders are Samyabadi Dal leader Dilip Barua, leader of Workers Party of Bangladesh Rashed Khan Menon, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal leader (JSD) Hasanul Huq Inu and JSD-faction leader Moinuddin Khan Badal.
The Oikya Front delegation members, besides Dr Kamal Hossain, were BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, standing committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Moudud Ahmed, Jamiruddin Sircar, Mirza Abbas, JSD president ASM Abdur Rob, vice president Tania Rob, general secretary Abdul Malek Ratan, Nagorik Oikya’s Mahmudur Rahman Manna and SM Akram, Gono Forum general secretary Mostafa Mohsin Montu, executive president Subrata Chowdhury, BNP standing committee members Dr Abdul Moyeem Khan, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Gano Forum presidium members Mokabbir Khan, Jaglul Haider Afrik and AHM Shafiq Ullah, Jatiya Oiky Prokriya’s Sultan Mohammad Mansur, ABM Mostafa Amin and Gonoshasthya Kendra founder Dr Zafrull Chowdhury.
Before the meeting Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the Prime Minister was sincere about the dialogue. Talking to reporters at the secretariat, he also said anything can be discussed at the dialogue. “The Prime Minister has no precondition… talks can be held on any issue.”
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is doubtful about the success of the talks keeping their chairperson Khaleda Zia in jail. “The government, on one hand, has offered dialogue and extended Khaleda Zia’s punishment on the other. These are two conflicting moves, which don’t demonstrate the government’s sincerity for talks,” Fakhrul said at a programme today.
The BNP leader said the government must fully accept Oikya Front’s seven-point demand for holding a credible and neutral election. “First of all, our leader (Khaleda) must be freed as no election can be meaningful without her release.”
Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said they will join the talks with an open mind to make it a success. He, however, said some issues, including Khaleda Zia’s release and election time-government, will be the challenging ones, to have suitable solutions. “We hope the government will come up with a positive attitude to resolve the political problems.”
A BNP standing committee member said they wanted the talks to be fruitful for restoring peace, stability and the continuation of the democratic trend in the country. He, however, warned that if the dialogue fails to produce a positive outcome, they will have no option but to go for a strong movement to force the government to concede to their demands.
The BNP leader also hinted that their party many announce tougher programmes from Oikya Front’s rally in the city on Friday if the talks fail.
In favour of Jatiya Oikya Front, Dr Kamal Hossain on Sunday sent a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeking dialogue over the national election. In response to it, Sheikh Hasina sent a letter to Dr Kamal on Tuesday morning and invited Oikya Front leaders to join the dialogue.
BNP together with Dr Kamal Hossain-led Jatiya Oikya Prokriya, JSD and Nagorik Oikya launched the Jatiy Oikya Front to press their seven-point demand on October 13. The Oikya Front’s seven-point demand included installation of a neutral interim government, dissolution of parliament, reconstitution the Election Commission, the release of all the political prisoners, deployment of army and cancellation of the move to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMS) for holding the next polls in fair and acceptable manner.
Jatiya Oikya Front leaders expressed unwillingness to join dinner at Ganobhaban after talks. Oikya Front leader and Nagorik Oikya convener,

PM Hasina-led 14-Party Alliance leaders at the dialogue - Photo Courtesy PM office,
PM Hasina-led 14-Party Alliance leaders at the dialogue – Photo Courtesy PM office,
Jatiya Oikya Front leaders at the dialogue -- Photo Courtery PM office
Jatiya Oikya Front leaders at the dialogue — Photo Courtesy PM office

Mahmudur Rahman Manna said they want to spend very productive time discussing crucial issues at Ganobhaban instead of wasting time by joining dinner.