Opposition lawmakers in the Jatiya Sangsad on Sunday slammed the violent and "uncontested" Union Parishad (UP) elections, and the sudden hike in diesel prices, with a senior opposition leader walking out of the session.
Speaking on a point-of-order, BNP's Harun-ur Rashid described the UP election as being held in areas gripped by terror.
"This is a crucial time in the country. The local government elections are being held in areas gripped with panic," he said.
He said the people's representatives are to be elected by the people, pointing out that even this Parliament had unelected members.
His remark led to an uproar, leading to the Speaker to request that Harun withdraw his statement. At one point, Harun retracted his statement.
Asking for an explanation from the Speaker, the MP from Chapainawabganj-3 then said that two phases of the UP election were completed, the third would conclude shortly, with the fourth having been scheduled.
"According to the information I have received, more than three hundred union council chairmen and entire councils were elected unopposed. Who elected them?"
Harun emphasised that this could not be, saying that if only one person participated in a tender for a job, then the tender would be held repeatedly unless there was more than one participant. But in places where uncontested elections were being held, no rescheduling was being announced.
The leader said the opposition was not taking part in the election, which led to the ruling party and its rebel candidates resorting to violence and killings across the country.
Addressing the home minister, Harun said that the minister had called local elections a sort of quarrel. He asked how it could be called a quarrel when 40 people had lost their lives. "Where are we taking the local government system," he asked.
After his microphone was switched off, the BNP MP then walked out of Parliament.
Commenting on the walk out, Bangladesh Tarikat Federation's Syed Nazibul Bashar Maizvandary of Chattogram-2 constituency said that Harun had done so out of fear, not protest.
He said the BNP claimed to not have participated in the election, but a BNP leader in Sundarpur Union had taken part.
"The BNP does not come to the polls to raise questions about the election. They are targeting the next national election," he said.
Jatiya Party's Mujibul Haque Chunnu then spoke about the increase in the price of diesel.
"The common people of the country are not doing well. In the last two years, people from all walks of life were affected in various ways during Covid-19. Just when people were recovering from that loss, the price of diesel was increased by 23% last Thursday. There was no prior warning," he said.
The price of oil had not risen by this much in the last few years, he said. But as the price rose, a transport strike was announced on Friday and Saturday. This affected various examinees, including those appearing for job or university exams. He said they had to endure extreme suffering because of this.
The government held talks with the transport owners three days into the strike, he added.
Regarding the fare hike, Chunnu said transport owners had to increase fares as oil prices had gone up, but he questioned the logic behind increasing bus fares by 27% and launch fares by 35%.
He added that rents had risen at a higher rate than oil, asking why there was no coordination.
"In the last three-four years, when oil prices were low in the international market, the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation earned about TK50,000 crore," he said.
"This government is a government of the people; if you think about the people, then was there no alternative to increasing the price of oil?"
The Kishoreganj-3 MP said that not only transport fare, but other things were affected by the price of oil, adding there was no control in the market with the price of most things rising, which put the people in a very bad situation.
He demanded that the prime minister take action to reduce the price of oil or take alternative steps.
Regarding oil prices, Jatiya Party's Rustum Ali Faraji said that the hike had increased the cost of transportation. As a result, the cost of travel and commodity prices had also risen.
The Pirojpur-3 MP said, "The neighboring countries have kept the price of oil right, considering it a sensitive issue. Our government can fix the situation if it wants and it should have. Because when the price of oil goes down in the international market, it does not go down in our country. But now, if you increase it with the excuse [of international prices], you should consider how much it can increase. The increase is much higher [in comparison]."
In a point-of-order, Rumeen Farhana of the BNP said, "From 2012 to 2017, there have been attacks on minorities in different parts of the country. But justice wasn't ensured for a single incident. On the contrary, many were rewarded with boat nominations. The inaction of the administration in this regard is very noticeable."