Leaders of different political parties join the rally of Jatiya Oikya Prokriya at Mohanagar Natya Mancha in the city on Saturday. Photo: Tanvir AhmedNational Unity Process convenor Kamal Hossain, United Front’s AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury and BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir joined a rally on Saturday that called for restoration of democracy, rule of law and voting rights of people.Also joined by some other opposition leaders and civil society representatives, the rally gave the government a 30 September deadline to meet its three-point demand, especially steps for formation of a polls-time neutral government through dialogue between political parties.The forum of the opposition coalition demanded reconstitution of the election commission and dissolution of parliament before announcement of the election schedule. The 11th parliamentary election is due later this year.“We called for unity of all pro-democracy forces and we Jukto (United) Front, Kamal Hossain, BNP and other national leaders discussed the unity issue. The unity process is on and we are optimistic about progress,” said Badruddoza Chowdhury, a former president, who floated the United Front recently.He insisted that steps must be taken to ensure that no autocratic government could be installed in Bangladesh in future.The National Unity Process announced to hold rallies across the country beginning 1 October to engage people with their unity process. National leaders are expected to be present there.UNB adds: Sheikh Muhammad Shahidullah, convener of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, read out the proclamation of the citizens’ rally.Kamal Hossain-led National Unity Process organised the rally at Mahanagar Natya Mancha in the city as part of its efforts to create a greater national unity to ensure a ‘functional democracy’ in the country through holding a credible national election. Kamal Hossain presided over the rally.Top leaders of BNP and its some alliance partners, Bikolpo Dhara Bangladesh, Jataiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rob), Nagorik Oikya, Ganosanghati Andolon and different other political parties and some civil society members joined the rally, and expressed their solidarity with the demands.The rally urged upon people to form committees of the ‘greater national unity’ in all the districts. upazilas, unions and wards comprising all the political parties, individuals, the people of all walks of life and civil society members who believe in the spirit of the liberation war to realise the demands of the mass people through united and peaceful programmes.The election commission’s ‘failure’ to hold the recent local government elections in a fair and neutral manner has exposed again that a credible election is not possible under a political government, said the announcement of the rally.”A unity has also been created among people over the matter. So, today’s rally extended solidarity to the five-point demand and nine targets announced by Oikya Prokriya and Jukta Front at the Jatiya Press Club for a fair and impartial election on 15 September.”The rally also demanded that legal and justified rights be ensured for BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia as she has been jailed unfairly by hindering the normal process of justice.It also demanded the government release the arrested students as they waged quota reform and safe roads movements and leaders and activists of all political parties after withdrawing the ‘false’ cases filed against them.The citizens’ rally also asked the government not to arrest leaders and activists of any political party until the national election is over.Speaking at the rally as the chief guest, Bikolpo Dhara Bangladesh president, AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury said they are in discussions with different political parties and individuals, including BNP to strengthen the national unity. “We think our efforts will be successful.”He, however, said they will not forge the national unity with those who were against the liberation war. “The national unity can be intensified with only those who are pro-liberation forces. It’s time for putting up a resistance …and realising demands.”B Chowdhury criticised the government for its ‘failure’ to ensure the security of people, including women and children, check extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, corruption, bribery and maintain law and order.He also slammed the government for attacking and torturing students.The former president also questioned as to why the political parties need to take permission from the police to hold rallies and meetings while the ruling can do it anywhere anytime as per its wish.”We’ll hold rallies by taking permission from people, not from the police, in the days to come.”He also castigated the government for its failure to realise the fair share of Teesta water from India over the last 10 years.Speaking at the programme, Kamal Hossain said they are putting in their best efforts to empower people and restore their voting rights.He said the country now has been under misrule as political opponents of the ruling party are being constantly harassed.Mentioning that some people are sensing a conspiracy behind the national unity process, Kamal said those who fear people are insulating people by calling their efforts to get united as a plot.”Bangabandhu had given me the responsibility for formulating the Constitution of the just-liberated country. It’s my best achievement. Personally, I’ve nothing else to get. As a political activist, it’s my sacred duty to ensure the empowerment of people as per the Constitution,” he said.Kamal Hossain, also the president of Gono Forum, said they are trying to forge the national unity to ensure a functional democracy and the rule of law and neutral enforcement of law by restoring people’s voting, basic, human and constitutional rights.”People are giving a tremendous response to our call as they’re united over the basic issues. Time has come to unite the like-minded parties. I believe our efforts will yield a positive outcome.” Speaking at the rally, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir thanked Kamal Hossain and B Chowdhury for taking steps to forge the national unity as the government is trying to establish a one-party rule by destroying democracy.”There’s no alternative to forging the unity to get rid of misrule of this government, and remove it from power,” he said.Fakhrul also said their chairperson Khaleda Zia gave them a message from jail to create the national unity to oust the ‘fascist regime’ and restore democracy.He said the government is now implicating their party leaders and activists in ‘ghostly’ cases to keep people away from election.The BNP leader said people will lose their basic rights while the country’s independence will be at stake if a pro-people government cannot be established removing the current one.Fakhrul said most political leaders at the rally made almost similar demands, including resignation of the government, dissolution of parliament, installation of an election-time government, reconstitution of EC, deployment of army and cancelation of EVM use decision, for holding the next polls in a fair and credible manner.He called upon the national leaders to launch a united movement to force the government to release Khaleda Zia, all political prisoners, and ensure a fair and credible election. “We must get united for it. We’ve made a good progress over forging the national unity through this rally. We hope we’ll be able to forge the unity very soon under the leadership of the national leader and move forward.”He also called upon all to join the movement for realising all the demands of the people.