‘Dr Yunus blocked Padma bridge funds’

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina virtually from Gonobhaban joined a discussion meet at the Awami League office on Bangabandu Avenue on WednesdayPID

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina blamed Nobel Peace Prize winner, economist Dr Muhammad Yunus, for blocking World Bank’s funding of the Padma bridge project. She said, “He blocked the funds for Padma bridge merely for the post of MD. He should be plunged into the Padma River twice. He should be just plunged in a bit and pulled out so he doesn’t die, and then pulled up onto the bridge. That perhaps will teach him a lesson. Dr Yunus stopped the funding for Padma bridge. Why? So he could hold onto the post of Grameen Bank MD.”

The prime minister made these comments about Padma bridge while addressing an Awami League discussion on Wednesday. She also criticised the BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and The Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina said, “Khaleda Zia had said that the Padma bridge was being made in a shoddy makeshift manner. The spans were being put in place, to her that was shoddy work. She said that Padma bridge was being made in a makeshift manner and it would not be possible to use it. It will collapse. Then there were some collaborators along with her… what should be done to them now? They should be taken to Padma bridge and dropped into the river.”

Wednesday marked the 41st anniversary of Awami League president Sheikh Hasina returning to the country. On 17 May 1981 she returned from exile to the country. Awami League sub-committee for relief and social welfare organised the discussion meeting at the party office in Bangabandhu Avenue on Wednesday to commemorate her return to the country. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina joined the meeting virtually from Gonobhaban. Her speech was broadcast over the media including Bangladesh Television.

Referring to the Grameen Phone founder Dr Yunus, the prime minister said, “We had given him a proposal to become the advisor of Grameen Bank. That is something even higher. But he wanted to be MD. He just wouldn’t let go. But his age wouldn’t permit it.”

Yunus filed a case in this connection, the prime minister said, adding, “Whatever the court may be able to do, it can’t decrease his age by 10 years. Grameen Bank’s laws say an MD can remain in office up till 60 years of age. He was then 71. How could his age be decreased? He lost the case, but took revenge.”

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina went on to say, “We heard he and Mahfuz Anam went to America. They went to the state department. They emailed Hilary Clinton. Mr Zoellick was the president of the World Bank at the time. On his last working day, without any board meeting, he blocked the funds to Padma bridge.”

Sheikh Hasina said that the halt of World Bank funding was a blessing in disguise. She said, today we have proven that Bangladesh can construct Padma bridge with its own money. But here a ‘wise’ person came up with the comment that the railway line being made along Padma bridge is being constructed with a Tk 40,000 crore loan. How will the loan be repaid?

The prime minister said, “How do such knowledgeable wise people speak in such an ignorant manner? They say we made a big mistake in taking up the mega projects. They sit in comfort and go and talk on the television channels I have set up.”

Saying that the launch of the Bangabandhu satellite was being criticised, the head of government said they are even questioning what’s the use of spending so much on a satellite. In order words, they can’t stand anything good being done for Bangladesh.

‘BNP has no right to speak about the election’

BNP has no right to speak about the election, said Awami League president Sheikh Hasina. She said, today BNP is raising questions about the election. But their election history is so murky that they have no right to speak about this. How dare they?

Referring to the Dhaka-10 seat election during the BNP rule, Sheikh Hasina said, “Falu (Mosaddek Ali Falu) contested in the election and I am sure everyone remembers that election. There was the Magura election against which we protested and toppled Khaleda Zia. There was the Mirpur election, we saw the state of all the elections.” She also pointed to the yes-no vote of 1977, the president election of 1978, the general election of 1979 and 1981, and the 15 February election of 1996.

The prime minister said, the present development of the election system is the materialisation of Awami League’s decision and perception. It was Awami League that has carried on the voter list with photographs, transparent ballot boxes and the EVM system.