Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad on Monday castigated the prime minister’s advisors for ‘their advocacy for India’, saying they were ‘India’s men’.
“These advisors are not for Bangladesh, they are people of India. They do not talk for Bangladesh, they talk for India,” said Ershad, the ruling Awami League’s key ally, in a street rally as part of a long march to protect Feni River.
“There is no need to have such advisors,” the former president said and metioned that their statements often gave rise to questions.
Ershad’s comments came a day after another ally, another ruling coalition leader, Workers’ Party of Bangladesh chief Rashed Khan Menon, slated the advisors.
“The way the advisors talk it means they are not advisors to the prime minister, rather they are advisors to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” Menon said in his thanksgiving motion on the president’s speech in parliament on Sunday.
Referring to the Indian prime minister’s visit in Sep last year, Ershad said, “There has been no headway in striking a treaty with India over the share of waters for Teesta and Feni rivers though it has been told that the issue would be settled soon.”
“The government does not dare make any statement to this end,” he added.
“Give me one more chance in the next parliamentary election. Whoever be the candidate, caste your vote on the symbol ‘plough’,” the deposed military strongman said and claimed that “the people of Bangladesh love me”.
Ershad set off for Feni around 9:30am with a motorcade of about 250 cars. Before leaving from the party’s central office in Banani in the capital, he addressed party supporters. He also addressed two other street rallies in Narayanganj and Sonargaon.
The JP chairman also urged all to protest against such Indian move by rising above narrow partisan views.
“The Feni river is ours. No other (country) has right to this river,” he told the street rally in the city’s Banani Model Town.
“There has been a plot to turn Feni, Mirsarai of Chittagong, Fatikchharhi, Khagrachharhi, Ramgarh, Noakhali and Comilla into deserts,” Ershad said.
The river Feni was recognised as a common river in 2005 at a meeting of the Joint River Commission (JRC) in Dhaka.
The river originates in Tripura and makes a common border of 87 kilometres with Bangladesh. After travelling about 90 kilometres in Tripura, it flows into Bangladesh.
The controversy over the river’s share of water remains unsolved for long allegedly because of India’s reluctance to strike a deal with Bangladesh.
Being a border river with one side of the banks in India and the other in Bangladesh, no activity is allowed in 150 yards from the centre of the river.
But allegations have it that India is lifting water from the river violating rules and taking advantage of no agreement to equally use the water of the river.
MEETING WITH PM
In reply to a query on a meeting with prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday night, he said, “We have talked about election issues.”
He said the discussion with the premier was fruitful but would not elaborate.
He was scheduled to address seven street rallies during the march and a gathering at Government Pilot High School ground in Feni in the afternoon, his information and political affairs secretary Sunil Shuvo Roy told bdnews24.com.
Earlier, he had marched towards Sylhet on Dec 10-11 protesting against India’s move to build a dam at Tipaimukh on the Barak River and to Nilphamari on Jan 17-18 demanding just share of water of the Teesta River.