BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia on Monday night urged the government to engage in a meaningful dialogue throwing away guns for holding a free and fair fresh national election. “It’s pointless to intimidate people. They (people) want a fair and neutral election under a non-party administration. So, sit in talks throwing away guns. The consequences will be dire if you (govt) think you’ll be able to cling to power by killing people with arms,” she said. Khaleda was addressing a function at her Gulshan office marking the joining of a group Thakurgaon district Jatiya Party leaders and activists to BNP. Khaleda also asked the government to arrange a fresh general election immediately quitting power. Or else, she warned, they will ensure its fall through a vigorous movement. The former prime minister also announced that she will tour different districts after the March 31 upazila polls as part of the BNP-led 19-party’s movement strategy to drum up public support. Over 50 Jatiya Party men, led by Thakurgaon district Jatiya Party general secretary Sultan Ferdous Namrul Chowdhury, joined BNP at the function presenting Khaleda a bouquet. Congratulating those joined BNP, Khaleda expressed her hope that the newcomers will help make BNP stronger in their region. “You all work together for ensuring the victory of the party’s candidates in the upazila polls.” The BNP chief said, she will visit Thakurgaon after the upazila polls and hold a rally there. “I’ll also visit different other districts across the country.” Turning to the January 5 polls, Khaleda said the current regime grabbed the power by force through a ‘voter-less’ lopsided election. “People didn’t go to the polling stations on January 5 to vote them. We want to tell the government that people will be forced to take to the streets if it tries to hang onto power.” Mentioning that the country’s people want a free and fair election, she said those enrolled as new voters could not exercise their franchise during the January 5 polls. “The government should arrange free and fair polls under a non-party government. Not only the country’s people, but also the entire global community wants to see an inclusive election in Bangladesh. The BNP chief harshly criticised the government for what she said resorting to killing, forced disappearance, repression and oppression on the opposition leaders and activists. Opposing the government’s move to hike power tariff, Khaleda said the government has taken the decision to provide ‘subsidy’ to the ruling party leaders who have set up quick rental power plants. She urged the government to retreat from its decision considering the sufferings the poor will have to undergo if the power tariff is raised. “This government is illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic. They’re conspiring to obliterate BNP by repressing its leaders and activists. But it won’t work. People are regularly joining BNP as they think it is a right party to protect the country and its independence,” she said. About the upazila polls, the BNP chief alleged that the ruling party ‘cadres’ are resorting to terrorism and polling station capture and vote fraud to manipulate the elections results into their favour. BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Sultan Fredous Namrul Chowdhury and Thakurgaon district BNP general secretary Abdul Hamid, among others, spoke at the programme.