Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Only a tea party, no formal dialogue at Ganabhaban, says Quader

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-01-29 04:37:47 BdST


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will host a tea party, not a formal dialogue, at the Ganabhaban on Feb 2 for the political parties that took part in pre-polls talks, Obaidul Quader has said.

The parties can, however, “just exchange views” at the party, the Awami League general secretary says.

Leaders of the BNP’s Jatiya Oikya Front alliance and different other political groups have been invited to the event.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Quader had previously backtracked on his announcement of fresh talks with the political parties after the Awami League won the Dec 30 parliamentary elections.

As many as 75 parties attended the talks with the government before the general election.

"It is a garden party. They can just exchange views. Exchanging pleasantries is the main objective. They will have tea together. There can be conversations in the gaps as well,” Quader said on Monday.

"It is possible to talk about other issues while exchanging greetings,” he added, again ruling out the possibility of a formal dialogue.

Hasina invited the political parties to the pre-election dialogue in October last year in response to the BNP's call for talks.

Failing to get their demands met, the BNP decided to contest in the election with their Chairperson Khaleda Zia in jail for corruption.

The party secured only six out of the 300 seats while the Awami League won absolute majority with 258.

The BNP and its allies in the Oikya Front have rejected the results and demanded fresh elections alleging widespread rigging and intimidation of their candidates and supporters.

The BNP said its MPs-elect will not take oath of office and the party will not join any programme to exchange greetings with Hasina.

"They (BNP) would know better why they are skipping the programme. We cannot just drop them from the list of invitees,” Quader said.

The Awami League general secretary reiterated that the BNP wanted to make the election questionable but failed.

"They wrote letters to all countries, but no-one in the democratic world replied. Everyone has congratulated the elected prime minister and the government,” he said.

He also reiterated the call upon the BNP to join parliament. "The prime minister herself has said that the number of seats won by the BNP will not matter. If they raise a reasonable issue in parliament, we will actively consider it,” Quader said.

A journalist asked whether he will talk to BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, one of the MPs-elect of the party, to bring him to parliament.

"It is a democratic right to join parliament. Why should I call him? He will come and join parliament because it is his right,” Quader replied.

"Mirza Fakhrul was not elected at anyone’s mercy. If he does not join parliament, he will deprive himself and the voters," he added.

The Awami League general secretary also said he learnt from media reports that Gono Forum leaders elected from the BNP alliance, Sultan Mohammad Mansur Ahmed and Mukabbir Khan, are interested in taking oath.

Welcoming Sultan and Mukabbir’s wish, Quader said, "It’s not that parliament is starting without the BNP, but the party is pulling itself out. 

“If the BNP does not attend the sessions, will we force them to come? Is it possible?" he asked.