Bangladesh Nationalist Front (BNF) Chairman Abul Kalam Azad has created a furore in Parliament by demanding relocation of Jatiya Party chief HM Ershad's office from Banani along with Khaleda Zia's office from Gulshan.
Several Jatiya Party (JP) MPs vehemently protested Azad's remark on Monday. Some JP lawmakers had also charged towards him. Azad was heard at the time calling JP an 'autocratic' party. The office of the BNP chief in capital Dhaka's Gulshan has been at the centre of a controversy, as Khaleda has been staying there for the past one month and announcing party programmes from there.
JaSaD MP Shirin Akhter, after taking part in a siege demanding the withdrawal of the ongoing nationwide blockade and shutdown at Khaleda's office earlier in the day, started the unscheduled discussion in the evening.
She demanded that the government move the BNP chief's office from the diplomatic zone, Gulshan. She also demanded Khaleda's arrest.
Joining the discussion, MP Abul Kalam Azad, who in Parliament represents Dhaka-17 constituency that includes Gulshan, said, "All political offices must be relocated from the diplomatic zone. I said this in Parliament earlier."
"The office of another political party, Jatiya Party, is also in that area. It should be moved too." His comments drew sharp protests immediately from Jatiya Party MPs. Among the top party leaders, only Secretary General Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu was present in the House at the time.
Some JP MPs, angry over his comments, rushed towards him while several others started screaming, "Grab him! Get him down!" Azad responded by calling JP the government's 'loyal opposition party' and 'autocratic'. He continued, "Don't stop me. You can protest, but I will finish what I want to say. All political offices must be removed from my constituency."
Deputy Speaker Md Fazle Rabbi Miah at the time failed to calm down the Jatiya Party deputies. However, getting the floor after a briefly tense period, JP's Nilphamari-4 MP Md Sawkat Chowdhure attacked the Dhaka-17 MP.
"I don't even know the name of the party he's (Azad) from. He got elected as MP because of Mr Ershad's kindness. Honourable Speaker, his remarks must be expunged. Otherwise, we'll walk out of Parliament."
Azad for the first time had contested and won from the Dhaka-17 seat in the last general elections held in January last year after JP chief Hussein Muhammad Ershad withdrew nominations. Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu later told Parliament, "Khaleda Zia's office and Ershad's office have been compared as equals. His (Azad) remarks are insulting."
"Orders to carry out bomb attacks are coming from Khaleda Zia's office; not from Mr Ershad's office." He also called for erasing Azad's remarks from the record of proceedings and demanded his unconditional apology.
Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah said, "I didn't hear clearly what Abul Kalam Azad said due to the hullaballoo. If he said anything non-parliamentary or offensive, I'll inspect first and then expunge them." He also told Bablu, "I can't say anything from my chair about what you demanded (unconditional apology from Azad). If he regrets the comments, he'll do that on his own."
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Raushon Ershad has urged agitating BNP-led coalition chief Khaleda Zia to shun violence and join the election process. She made the appeal at an unscheduled discussion in Parliament on Monday. "Please stop burning people," Jatiya Party presidium member Raushon Ershad said. "You've been a two-time prime minister but now are burning people alive. Please come back to politics meant for people's welfare," she said, referring to the BNP chief.
In her speech, Raushon warned Khaleda that her party would never succeed in toppling the government with "acts of terrorism". "So far, the economy has sustained a loss of Tk 91 trillion; it's collapsing. Foreign investment has stopped. The garment sector is losing orders."
The leader of the opposition in Parliament also mentioned the sufferings of the SSC examinees due to the blockade and shutdowns. "How long will this go on? A solution to stop these must be found. Talks will produce a solution."
Raushon, assuring their full support, also asked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take charge and find a way out of the deadlock. ?bsnews24.com