The BNP has decided not to attend the opening ceremony of Padma Bridge of 25 June, according to the party's Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
"I want to say very clearly that no BNP leader or activist will ever attend the inauguration ceremony at the invitation of those who want to drown former prime minister and the most popular leader of this country Khaleda Zia into Padma," he told a press conference at the BNP chairperson's political office in Gulshan on Wednesday.
"We cannot accept their invitation as they also want to drown Dr Yunus, the eminent personality of this country who had brought an international-level acclaim for Bangladesh," Mirza Fakhrul added.
Earlier in the day, the Bridges Division of the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges invited seven BNP leaders to the inauguration ceremony of the much-awaited Padma Bridge.
BNP's Chairperson Khaleda Zia was not among those invited, though Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said she will be invited to the programme.
Dulal Chandra Sutradhar, deputy secretary of the Bridges Division, handed over the invitation letter to BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi at the party's Naya Paltan central office on Wednesday morning.
Some 3,000 eminent persons are being invited to the inauguration. The list includes ambassadors of different countries, representatives of donor agencies, political leaders, representatives of construction partners, prominent citizens of the country and journalists.
Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, trustee of the Gonoshasthaya Kendra, said he has received the invitation and will attend the programme.
"I requested the authorities to downsize the programme and spend the money for the flood victims…Since I am a freedom fighter, I will go to the event," Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury told The Business Standard.
"However, it would be better if other noted freedom fighters who are still alive like Bangabir Abdul Kader Siddique and [Maj Gen retd] Syed Muhammad Ibrahim were invited too," he added.
Major General (Retd) Syed Muhammad Ibrahim Bir Protik, chairman of the Bangladesh Kallyan Party, said he did not receive the invitation.
"But I have no regrets about that. I think the bridge is a milestone for Bangladesh. I wish the inauguration a success, so that people can enjoy its benefits," he told TBS.
"The construction of the bridge has numerous corruption allegations. But I do not want to talk about this now. For now, I wish the inauguration a success," he added.
Of the international development partners, an invitation letter has been sent to the Dhaka office of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) inviting the ADB president. A source at the country office told TBS that it was not possible for the president to visit Bangladesh in such a short notice. So, the ADB country resident mission has been asked to take part in the ceremony.
Leaders of the Central Executive Committee of the Awami League as well as the presidents and general secretaries of the affiliated organisations have been invited to the occasion. The invitation letters were handed over by the Bridges Division at the Awami League political office in Dhanmondi on Tuesday afternoon.
Ruhin Hossain Prince, general secretary of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), said he had received the invitation. However, he will not be able to attend the event as he is going to Sylhet to provide relief to the flood victims.
Shirin Akhtar, general secretary of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), said they had received the invitation and would attend the event.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the much-awaited Padma Bridge on 25 June. The inauguration event of the Padma Bridge will be replicated in 64 districts simultaneously.