'Govt offered BNP leaders release from jail if they join polls'

Agriculture minister Abdur RazzaqueFile Photo

The authorities had wholeheartedly tried to bring in the key opposition – Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – to the forthcoming election.

Even the imprisoned opposition leaders were assured of release following a decision to participate in the polls. 

But the BNP leaders did not accept the offer, said Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque in an interview televised on Channel 24 on Sunday. 

He, also a presidium member of ruling Awami League, made it clear that the government has taken all the recent decisions consciously with consideration of their aftermath.  

Responding to a question, Abdur Razzaque said, “If 20,000 BNP leaders and activists had not been arrested, would you see the cars that are plying the streets today amid hartal? We had no other alternatives. Whatever we did, we did thoughtfully.” 

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He also said, “They (BNP) have been repeatedly told from the election commission that if they join the polls, the schedule will be deferred. Not only deferred, it was said they would be released from jail.”