Though BNP’s cultural wing Sangskritik Sangstha (Jasas) arranged the programme to celebrate the Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year 1422, it actually turned into an election campaign of BNP-supported mayoral candidates. BNP cultural affairs secretary Gazi Mazharul Anwar, Jatiyatabadi Samajik Sangskritik Sangstha (Jasas) president MA Malek and its general secretary Monir Khan received the BNP chief as she reached the BNP headquarters around 5:11pm. Coming out of her vehicle, Khaleda took Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayoral candidate Tabith Awal and Dhaka South City Corporation mayoral contender Mirza Abbas’ wife Afroza Abbas on her two sides and waved her hand to her supporters. Holding the hands of Tabith and Afroza Khaleda also flashed the V sign.
Prof Emajuddin Ahmed, convener of Adarsha Dhaka Andolon, a pro-BNP professional’s platform floated to work for two BNP-backed mayoral candidates in Dhaka, delivered the inaugural speech at the programme. Later, Afroza Abbas, who has been carrying out election campaign in fvaour of her husband, and Tabith Awal addressed it seeking votes and blessings. Khaleda started her address wishing her audience a happy New Year and hoped that the New Year will bring something good for her party and for the country. In her remaining seven-minute speech, she concentrated on the city polls.
Khaleda said the government has announced to hold the city polls with an idea that BNP would boycott those as it was on a movement. “We want to state that our movement is for a national election. BNP had earlier joined all the elections to local government bodies, including city ones, and demonstrated very good results. Referring to the success of her party-backed candidates in major city polls, she said people gave a message that they want a change in the regime by electing opposition candidates in those polls. “People want a change and they don’t want to see a repressive and killer regime in power. People will also bring a change in Dhaka cities like other cities.”
Mentioning that Dhaka is now number two worst city in the world, the BNP chief said if Abbas and Tbith are elected they will change the situation by resolving the city’s nagging problems, making it clean and ensuring civic amenities, including, gas, power and water, for its dwellers of all the classes. Bagging vote for Abbas, Khaleda said, “Mirza Abbas was a mayor in the past. Give him another chance to develop the city and serve you. Tabith is a well-educated youth who studied abroad. He is a god boy he has new and nice ideas to develop the city. You please give this young man a chance to serve you. He’ll turn the DNCC into more beautiful and livable city.”
Later, she also sought vote for her-party-supported mayoral candidate for Chittagong City Corporation Manjur Alam. Jasas arranged the programme on the footpath in front of the BNP’s office as they did not get police permission to erect a stage. Several thousand BNP leaders and activists gathered in front of their party office as their chairperson came there after a long time. Though it was Khaleda Zia’s first arrival at Nayapaltan since the January-5 election boycotted by her party and alliance, she did not enter the office as she left the area for her residence completing her address in front of it.
On October 21, 2013, Khaleda had last visited her party’s Nayapaltan headquarters to see then ailing BNP joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, now in jail. Khaleda attempted to go the Nayapaltan central office on the night of January 3 this year again to visit Rizvi as he had fallen sick inside it but police did not allow her to come out of her Gulshan office. Two days later, she again tried to come out of her office to join her party-led 20-party’s much-hyped rally in front of it on January 5 to mark what she said ‘Democracy Killing Day’ to protest the 10th parliamentary polls, but police intercepted her and confined her to her Gulshan political office, prompting her to enforce a non-stop blocked.
Later, Khaleda had stayed inside her political office for nearly three months and finally returned to her Gulshan residence on April 5. Meanwhile, huge additional police were deployed in Nayapaltan area in the afternoon ahead of Khaleda Zia’s arrival. However, there was no untoward incident centering the programme.