Youths participating in the BNP rally in Bogura have vowed to reclaim their rights to vote in the upcoming elections.
Claiming that around 4.70 crore youths in the country could not vote in 2014 and 2018 national elections held under the ruling party, Jubo Dal President Sultan Salahuddin Tuku recited the vow that was repeated by the members of BNP-affiliated organisations Chhatra Dal, Jubo Dal, and Shwechchhashebak Dal yesterday.
"We will restore democracy in Bangladesh even at the cost of our lives. We will fight for democracy till death. We will fight to the last drop of blood to restore the voting rights of the citizens of the country," participants at yesterday's rally recited in unison.
Members of the BNP and its affiliated organisations from 16 districts in two northern divisions – Rangpur and Rajshahi. They donned t-shirts on which were written slogans: "I want to vote", "What happened to my right to vote?" "I will cast my own vote", and "I want to vote during the day".
A number of young students spoke at the rally. Two chairs were kept empty on the stage in honour of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and its acting chairman Tarique Rahman.
Farzana Yasmin Tushi, a young woman from Rangpur who was allegedly deprived of the right to vote, said, "I could not vote even once since I became a voter, but why? When I went to vote, they said my vote had been cast. How is that possible? I want to cast my own vote."
Maudud Ahmed, an unemployed youth, said, "I studied at one of the most reputed universities in the country. Even after clearing the BCS exam, we did not get a job, just because we were not members of the Awami League family. But the country's constitution does not say so."
Shwechchhashebak Dal President SM Jilani, who presided over the rally, read out a letter on behalf of the youths demanding a caretaker government, repeal of the Digital Security Act, job creation for the unemployed, and reduction in the price of educational materials.
Calling for the dissolution of parliament and formation of a caretaker government, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, "We have only one demand – Sheikh Hasina's resignation."
Mirza Fakhrul said, "Awami League has become confused. They said they would prepare a visa policy of their own. People do not know whether to laugh or cry at their words. They do not even know what they are talking about."
"The current government is not giving jobs to talented people and not allowing new voters to vote only for political reasons. Their only goal is to loot the country," said Mirza Fakhrul, adding, "The youth must understand that this country belongs to them. They have to protect the country's independence and sovereignty. They have to bring back democracy to the country."
Juba Dal Acting General Secretary Shafiqul Islam Milton, Shwechchhashebak Dal General Secretary Rajib Ahsan, and Chhatra Dal General Secretary Saif Mahmud Jewel were in charge of the rally.
BNP Organising Secretary Advocate Ruhul Quddus Talukdar Dulu, Bogura district unit BNP President Rezaul Karim Badsha, Juba Dal President Sultan Salauddin Tuku, Chhatra Dal president Kazi Rawonkul Islam Shravan, among others, were also present in the rally.