A day in which the opposition returned to the Jatiya Sangsad was suddenly made rather exciting. Two legislators, one from the ruling Awami League and the other from the opposition BNP, almost got into a scuffle yesterday.
Taking part in the discussion on the thanksgiving motion on the president’s address, BNP lawmaker Rehana Akhtar Ranu used words in bad taste to attack the prime minister, home minister, state minister for law, a former chief justice and an incumbent High Court judge.
Her remarks sparked uproar in the House as treasury bench MPs instantly protested. Without microphone, Awami League MP Fazilatunnesa Bappy was heard shouting, “Shut up… or I will slap you”. Her words almost triggered a scuffle between her and BNP MP Shammi Akhtar.
Thanks to the timely intervention of women chamber attendants and some ruling and opposition MPs, an embarrassing situation was averted in the House.
Having stayed away from parliamentary proceedings for 83 consecutive sittings since March last year, opposition leader Khaleda Zia returned to the House yesterday afternoon along with her lawmakers.
Sources said the opposition MPs were earlier asked by Khaleda to play a “constructive” role in the House and not use indecent words in their speeches.
Earlier in the day, the BNP chief held a brief meeting with opposition MPs and advised them to strongly criticise the “poor performance” of ministers and protest the government’s various “wrongdoings”.
“Do not remain silent. You will counter, not using abusive words, rather in a constructive way,” BNP MP Nazim Uddin Ahmed quoted the BNP chief as saying.
The opposition leader’s directives regarding criticism of the government and ministers without using unparliamentary words were initially followed when two BNP MPs, who took part in the discussion on the thanksgiving motion on the president’s speech, launched a blistering attack on the government over its “failure” to address various issues.
BNP lawmaker Shaheeduddin Chowdhury Anee blasted the government for its role in “trying to foil” the opposition’s March 12 grand rally in the capital. He launched the attack on the government without using any abusive words.
His colleague, Rehana, however, did not comply with the party chief’s directive.
After Awami League MP Fazilatunnesa yelled at Rehana threatening to slap her with a hand raised, BNP MP Shammi Akhtar, who sits in front of Fazilatunnesa, in fast pace went towards Fazilatunnesa and forcibly brought the ruling party lawmaker’s hand down.
Two female attendants of the chamber rushed there and were seen standing between Fazilatunnesa and Shammi apparently to stop them from fighting. BNP legislator Anee and Awami League’s Aslamul Haque then rushed to the scene and were also seen trying to control Fazilatunnesa and Shammi.
Treasury bench Chief Whip Abdus Shahid, Whip ASM Feroz and Opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque joined the efforts to defuse the tension.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP chief Khaleda were present in the House during this unpleasant incident.
Later, taking the floor on a point of order, Chief Whip Abdus Shahid said the opposition MPs had returned to the House to save their membership and ensure their remuneration kept flowing in. He demanded that the Speaker expunge Rehana’s entire speech from the proceedings.
Opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farrooque backed Rehana and said it was natural that his party MPs would condemn the government as it had failed to deliver all that it had promised. He said opposition MPs would stop using vulgar and abusive words if the treasury bench refrained from doing the same.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, while making a statement on Bangladesh’s victory over Myanmar at a UN court on maritime boundary, said the words Rehana used were not used even in red light areas.
She said the BNP MP used indecent and vulgar words and the opposition leader encouraged her by applauding.
WHAT REHANA SAID
The Speaker gave Rehana 12 minutes to speak on the thanksgiving motion but from the very beginning, she used vulgar words.
“You are the godfather of terrorist as terrorists hide under your sari,” she said, hinting at Sheikh Hasina.
Rehana also termed the FBI agents, who came to Dhaka to testify against
Khaleda’s son Tarique Rahman in a money laundering case, “witches”, “ghosts”, “monkeys”, “Satan”, etc. Khaleda Zia was then seen smiling and thumping her desk in approval quite a few times.
Rehana also said the state minister for law would have to flee the country without his clothes; and when he talks it smells like sewage. She also accused Sajeeb Wajed Joy, son of Hasina, of doing business with state money.
After Rehana completed her speech, Speaker Abdul Hamid, who was presiding over the sitting, said all indecent and unparliamentarily words would be expunged from the proceedings.
Led by Khaleda Zia, opposition MPs of the BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh Jatiya Party and Liberal Democratic Party entered the House at 5:12pm yesterday, minutes before the House resumed its business.
Within moments the leader of the House, Sheikh Hasina, entered the chamber.
Khaleda Zia was last in the House on March 15 last year while the BNP-led opposition deputies were last there on March 24 last year.
Yesterday Khaleda left the House before Maghreb prayers.
Earlier, Hamid told the House that he was “very, very” happy at the opposition’s return to the House. He also hoped that the House would become lively with the opposition’s participation.
Meanwhile, the House yesterday granted 90-day leave to opposition MP Kazi Mofazzal Hossain Kaykobad on health grounds.
The House unanimously gave consent to it when Speaker Abdul Hamid raised the matter.
The Speaker read out a letter from the BNP lawmaker, now under treatment in Singapore, seeking leave.
Source: The Daily Star (http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=226852) – 19/3/2012