Bangladesh’s former president and chairperson of Jatiya Party (JP) Hussain Muhammad Ershad called on the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to merge with his Jatiya Party.
“You leave Jamaat, come join my party. We are the true nationalists,” he said, speaking at a rally in Feni on Saturday.
Lt Gen Ershad formed his party the same way Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman formed the BNP, after they took state power as military dictators. Prime minister’s Special Envoy Ershad questioned BNP’s capability of waging a movement.
“This party is always issuing threats of uprising. I don’t see them doing anything anywhere. They don’t have the power to do it,” the Jatiya Party chairman said.
He spoke about his own experience in such matters.
“I was in jail for six years. There were 74 cases against me. But I never gave up,” Ershad said.
Ershad, whose party is a major ally of the ruling Awami League and also plays the Opposition in Parliament, spoke about the ‘Hawa Bhaban’.
The BNP’s political headquarters was widely believed to have been a parallel power centre run by Tarique Rahman when his mother Khaleda Zia’s 2001-06 term as head of government.
“They sent money abroad from Hawa Bhaban during their rule,” he said.
The former military strongman then turned to criticize the ruling party, saying, “Unfortunately Hawa Bhabans have popped up in every government office under this government.”
The government has become paralysed by politicalisation, he claimed.
Local JP and Awami League leaders were present at the rally.
Ershad, who was toppled by an uprising in 1990, claimed that the country ran better in his regime.
“I did not create RAB or the godfathers,” he pointed out.
He also claimed that the people wanted to see his party in power ‘again’.
– Our Correspondent