Bangladesh’s ruling, opposition chiefs likely to talk on phone

Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called Opposition leader Khaldea Zia this afternoon to invite her to a dialogue over polls-time government “but failed to reach”, PM’s press secretary said.

“The prime minister called the opposition leader at her red phone at 1:15pm but could not talk with her as no-one picked up the phone for half an hour,” PM’s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad told The Daily Star.

Later, an official at the Prime Minister’s Office phoned Shimul Biswas, special assistant to the opposition leader, and asked him to convey to Khaleda that the PM wants to talk with her, added Azad.

Meanwhile, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said Khaleda’s red phone is out of order for a long time.

“All her land lines remain out of order most of the times,” he said.

Another official at the Prime Minister’s office, who preferred anonymity, told that a personal aide to the PM had called BNP Chairperson’s special assistant Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas.

“He [Biswas] was told that the Prime Minister is scheduled to attend a meeting of the Awami League Parliamentary Party at 6pm. The Leader of the Opposition can call her back by 6pm, if she wants to,” the official was quoted as saying in the report.

Earlier in the morning, AL Presidium member Kazi Zafarullah, told The Daily Star that the PM is likely to call Khaleda to sit for a dialogue over the formation of an all-party polls-time government with elected representatives.

“After discussion between the prime minister and the opposition leader, there will be no need to enforce hartal from tomorrow,” said Zafarullah, who talked to the prime minister this morning.

Criticising the hartal and Khaleda’s two-day ultimatum to the government for initiating a dialogue, the AL leader said this is not the time for the ultimatum and hartal when the nation is expecting a dialogue over the election-time government and both the parties advanced a lot.

While addressing a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan yesterday, Khaleda threatened with a 60-hour hartal from tomorrow morning if the government does not initiate talks with her party by today over formation of a non-partisan election-time government.

The BNP chief on October 21 proposed forming a non-partisan polls-time governmentheaded by a respected person to be chosen by consensus between the ruling and opposition parties and that 10 advisers would come from the caretaker governments of 1996 and 2001.

Khaleda came up with the proposal in a counter move to the prime minister’s recent offer to form an all-party election-time government.

In her proposal, she however didn’t clarify who would head the all-party polls-time government.

On October 22, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, on behalf of the BNP-led 18-party alliance sent a letter to ruling AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam for holding a dialogue on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s formula on a polls-time government. The Daily Star.