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BNP asks AL to learn from 1974 famine as prices of essentials rising

Amid the soaring prices of food grains and the daily essentials, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir asked the ruling party to take a lesson from the famine in 1974 and take effective steps.

“I would like to warn Mr Obaidul Quader (AL general secretary) that you don’t learn from history. There was a famine in 1974 when the prices of food grains went up,” he said.

Speaking at a discussion, the BNP leader also said the prices of food grains are increasing now again and people are going through immense sufferings.

“At this time, you are not reading the writings on the walls and taking the necessary initiatives. There is now no point in saying all those contradictory things and making unguarded remarks,” he said.

Fakhrul urged the government to return to the democratic system and create a democratic atmosphere to avoid possible public wrath. “Let the people speak up and exercise their rights. Otherwise, you’ll have to face its consequences. You’re threatening us with terrible consequences, but you saw such consequences in the past.”

He also called upon the government to restore people’s rights, stop killings, forced disappearance, filing false cases and release Begum Khaleda Zia unconditionally.

“Otherwise, you will never get relief… we know they (AL) will not pay heed to it, and that is why their fall is inevitable.”

Jatiya Ganatantrik Party (JAGPA) arranged the discussion at the Jatiya Press Club, marking the 41st death anniversary of Ziaur Rahman and the 5th death anniversary of party founder Shafiul Alam Pradhan.

Fakhrul recalled that Awami League was there in power from 1972-1975 and that was the worst period in Bangladesh. “They never talk about their rule from 1972-75…hundreds of youth had to lose their lives at that time only for talking about democracy while there was widespread plundering and their failures led to a famine in 1974. They don’t talk about these things.”

The BNP leader said In his book on Bangladesh’s 1974 famine, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen stated that there were sufficient food grains but the then government could not create the kind of administration and structure needed to manage the food grains and deliver those to people and save them from starvation and death. “The second reason was their greed as they indulged in corruption, plundering and black marketing even at that crisis period.”

“The same thing we’re seeing now. The minister himself is admitting that syndicates are raising the prices of essentials and food grains. Why are you there in the office when you can’t control the syndicates and take action against the corrupt persons?” he questioned.

Fakhrul said the government is arresting the small wholesalers to stop hoarding of food and essential items, but the problem is not there.

“Newspapers have unveiled the real problems that the rice price is growing as the big corporate houses are buying a huge amount of rice. It’s never possible to do it without the government’s indulgence and help. That is why we have repeatedly said the prices of rice and commodities have gone up not only for the government’s maneuvering but also for its direct involvement (in the process),” he said.

Accusing the government of usurping power and hanging onto office by force, he said this regime will have to be ousted through united efforts.

He said their party has started a process of forging unity among the political parties to ensure the fall of the Awami League government.

Fakhrul said their party wants all the left and right-leaning political parties to get united to end the misrule of the current regime and restore democracy and people’s lost rights.

He also accused the current government of destroying the electoral system and politicising all the state institutions. “No election will be held under this regime. Awami League must step down handing over power to a neutral government.”