Ahead of the talks with Sheikh Hasina, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is putting emphasis on Khaleda Zia’s release before the elections, but Dr Kamal Hossain says national interests should be prioritised ahead of the party gains.
Gono Forum President Dr Kamal will head a Jatiya Oikya Front alliance delegation, which includes BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul and four other leaders of the party, in the talks scheduled for Thursday.
Oikya Front leaders say they will discuss their seven-point charter of demand in the dialogue at the Ganabhaban.
Their demands include release of Khaleda and dissolution of parliament before holding the general elections under a nonpartisan government, not Hasina.
"The first condition is that the government must free Khaleda Zia from jail. No election will be meaningful if she is not released.” Mirza Fakhrul told a proest programme on Wednesday morning.
The BNP organised the demonstration demanding the release of Khaleda from jail through cancellation of court verdicts in two corruption cases.
“The government is proposing a dialogue on one hand, while on the other, Khaleda Zia's jail sentence has been doubled. These are contradictory and do not reflect democratic behaviour. The sincerity that the dialogue requires is absent,” Mirza Fakhrul said about the talks.
But Dr Kamal told another event in the evening: “We believe in talks. We always believe that the people have the power. They will discuss national interests, not party ones, among themselves.
“We want the dialogue to be held on national interests,” he added.
He also called for maintaining “national unity” for the sake of fair polls.
Gono Forum chief Kamal Hossain gestures at BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at the rally of the Jatiya Oikya Prokriya in Dhaka on Saturday. Doubts about a breakthrough in talks, however, lingered in Mirza Fakhrul’s speech at the programme organised by the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD to mark its 46th founding anniversary.
“Our leaders and activists are getting arrested every day. So confusion has already been created among the people over the sincerity of the prime minister in calling us to the talks and which way the dialogue will lead us to,” he said.
He hoped Hasina would “take the opportunity to establish true democracy in Bangladesh through the national dialogue” by meeting all seven demands placed by the alliance.
On Tuesday, the High Court scaled up the jail term to 10 years from five years for Khaleda for embezzling Tk 21 million foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust.
On Monday, Khaleda was sentenced to seven years in prison for embezzlement of Tk 31.54 million through the Zia Charitable Trust.
The BNP leaders condemned the verdicts, saying that the judgments were designed to keep Khaleda out of the election.