BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said on Saturday that the government has to resign and negotiate by fulfilling the demands of the opposition parties to avoid any confrontation.
At a press conference at the BNP chairperson's political office in Gulshan, in response to a question from journalists about whether there is a scope to consolidate democracy through discussions instead of conflicts and violence, he said, "It completely depends on the government. If the government wants to avoid conflict and move forward, then it must fulfil the demands of the opposition parties first."
Regarding the president's call for discussion in his speech in the parliament on Friday, the BNP leader said, "We think that he read the speech written by the government. Yet I personally liked the words in the speech where he said that development without democracy is not universal and democracy can never be practised through conflict."
Meanwhile, the BNP's two-hour sit-in programme across the country on Saturday to press home their 10 point-demand including a non-partisan government to conduct the next national election was marred by police obstruction, arrests, and attacks by the Awami League activists.
Mirza Fakhrul claimed that around 50 party activists were arrested from various areas in Dhaka. He also stated that 15 party members in Jashore were attacked with hammers by AL men.
In Sylhet, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's adviser Khandaker Abdul Muktadir was released after being arrested from outside the Osmani International Airport around 3pm. He went there to join the party's sit-in programme.
In Dhaka, Barrister Nasir Uddin Asim, international affairs secretary of the BNP, alleged that police arrested two BNP leaders from a programme held under his leadership in the capital's New Market Police Station area.
BNP Joint Secretary Moyazzem Hossain Alal said they faced obstacles from police as they opted for staging the sit-in protest in the Tejgaon Industrial area.
Besides, BNP Marginal Manpower Development Assistant Secretary Aparna Roy Das and Muktijoddha Dal President Ishtiaq Aziz Ulfat also complained of police obstruction in the programme in the Kotwali Police Station area.
BNP leaders alleged that the Awami League activists attacked the sit-in programmes in several areas of the city including Dholaikhal, and Jatrabari.
A large number of policemen surrounded the house of former mayor Sadek Hossain Khoka in Gopibagh when the leaders and activists of the party including the metropolitan BNP's senior member Ishraque Hossain.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Additional Commissioner AKM Hafiz Akhter told TBS that no one was arrested from the BNP's sit-in programme based on their party affiliation.
"Only those who have old cases against them have been arrested," he said.
Meanwhile, in Natore, the sit-in programme of the BNP was foiled after an attack was carried out allegedly from a peace march of the Awami League.
Abul Bepari, general secretary of Natore Sadar upazila BNP, was injured in the attack and admitted to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.
"The government has become more violent"
At the press conference at the BNP chairperson's political office in Gulshan, when asked about the president's Friday speech, Fakhrul said, "We respect the president. However, he has limited power according to the constitution. Our experience with the government has not been pleasant."
"When we were the opposition party, we proposed the formation of an election commission to the president. We went to him with specific proposals. Unfortunately, he could not implement any of those as he does not have that power," he said.
There is no accountability in any aspects of the incumbent government, alleged the BNP secretary general, adding, "They themselves are not accountable to the people… They are not elected [by the people] to parliament, and that is why they are in this situation."
The press conference was organised by the BNP after its meeting with like-minded political alliances on Saturday afternoon.
Later in the day, during an iftar party organised by the Association of Engineers Bangladesh (AB), an organisation of pro-BNP engineers, at the Ladies Club in the capital, Mirza Fakhrul said that the government has become more violent during Ramadan and they are trying to provoke the BNP into engaging in similar activities.
He also said at the event that the government does not allow the people to speak because they are afraid.