The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Tuesday asked the Awami League government to quit immediately handing over state power to an impartial election-time government as people want to choose their leader by vote. ‘It’s not just a march it’s a march for victory. It’s a victory march for realising people’s rights, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said while inaugurating the party’s road-march programme in Dhaka’s Gabtali area. He said that the government was a government of ‘corrupt businessmen’.

‘Prime minister Sheikh Hasina held talks for five hours with the people who hiked prices of commodities and electricity, siphoned off billions of taka, and built houses in countries like Singapore, Canada, America, and England. I feel ashamed, saddened, and disgusted,’ Fakhrul said, referring to the recent PM meeting with businesspeople.

He said that democracy had been put to the grave and that the AL had destroyed the election system.

Mentioning the elections of 2014 and 2018, Fakhrul said that in 2014, 154 people were elected without voting, while in 2018, AL cast votes on the night before the voting day using the state mechanism.

‘And then you [AL people] just emptied the pockets of the Bangladeshi public in the past 10 to 15 years. People are devastated to be forced to pay taxes and surcharges,’ he alleged.

He alleged that the Election Commission staged a farce in the name of by-polls in Dhaka-17 on Monday.

He said that the BNP, along with 36 other opposition parties, had started a new journey for the restoration of democracy through the road-march programme.

‘We will achieve victory through this journey by realising our one-point demand. We will defeat this terrible, monstrous regime and form a government and parliament of people,’ he said.

Fakhrul said that the people of the country had woken up to get back their lost rights and end the Awami League government’s misrule.

He urged the government to step down and dissolve parliament by handing over power to a neutral government.

‘Not only BNP but also 36 other political parties simultaneously announced on July 12 that the current regime must resign immediately. This country’s people no longer want the Awami League in power,’ said Fakhrul.

He called upon all democratic political parties, organisations, and professional bodies to take to the streets to protect the country and its people by ousting the Awami League regime.

About the by-polls in Dhaka-17, he said the ruling party could not take voters to the polling stations by installing a heavyweight candidate and its main think-tank, Mohammad Ali Arafat, against Hero Alam.

‘The polling stations were empty. The crippled, worthless, and subservient Election Commission showed 11 per cent voter turnout. We saw that there were no voters anywhere…After the results announcement, Arafat showed the victory sign. It’s a matter of shame. Hero Alam, a non-political personality, was beaten and driven out of the polling station,’ Fakhrul said.

He criticised the silent role of the police while a candidate was attacked by ruling party activists in front of a polling station.

He said that while the people in the capital had been facing a difficult time due to a serious dengue outbreak, the Dhaka south city mayor went to Europe for a vacation.

‘The health minister went to America. What a sense of responsibility they have,’ he said.

As part of their one-point movement, thousands of BNP leaders and activists joined the march from Gabtali Bus Station to Roy Saheb Bazar in the old part of Dhaka.