Awami League and Sheikh Hasina never flee: PM Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks at a blood donation campaign, discussion, and doa mahfil organised by Bangladesh Krishak League, a front organisation of governing Awami League, in the city’s Krishibid Institution Bangladesh auditorium on the first day of the “month of mourning” on 1 August, 2023

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday reiterated that Awami League (AL) is always beside people, saying “Awami League, Sheikh Hasina never flee” rather her party’s only motto is to improve the lives and livelihoods of the countrymen.

“Sheikh Hasina or AL never ran away, didn’t flee,” she said responding to BNP’s remark that “AL will not get escape route”.

The prime minister was addressing a blood donation campaign, discussion, and doa mahfil organised by Bangladesh Krishak League, a front organisation of governing Awami League, in the city’s Krishibid Institution Bangladesh (KIB) auditorium on the first day of the “month of mourning”.

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members was brutally killed on 15 August, 1975.

Referring to opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), she said, “Our opposition party, although they are not in parliament, issues threat saying that we will not get any escape route.”

Sheikh Hasina, also the president of AL, said she would like to remind the person, who delivered this speech, that “Sheikh Hasina or AL never run away, didn’t flee”.

Highlighting her return to the country during the 1/11 government, she said that Tarique Zia, son of Khaleda Zia, fled the country in 2007 giving a bond that he won’t do politics anymore.

Now they, whose party’s leader is a convict, are making big remarks, she said.

“You (BNP leaders) already remained fugitive. How come they can make such big remarks under the supervision of a convicted fugitive,” she added.

The prime minister said she returned home despite threats and strong obstructions from the then caretaker government.

“At that time, I was abroad. They (the 1/11 government) didn’t want me to come. The caretaker government did not allow me to come. All international airlines were asked not to land in Dhaka with me. They will not be allowed to land in Dhaka,” she said.

“Even after giving such instructions, I forcefully came back to Bangladesh,” she said.

The AL chief said her party leaders and activists were threatened saying that actions would be taken against those who will go to the airport but “our leaders and activists did not pay heed to it rather thousands of people gathered at the airport when I landed in Dhaka.”

She continued: “I’ve returned ignoring all the bloodshot eyes.”

After the discussion, the prime minister opened the blood donation campaign at KIB on the occasion of the month of mourning.

Awami League presidium members engineer Mosharraf Hossain, deputy leader in parliament Begum Matia Chowdhury and agriculture minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque and joint general secretaries Mahbubul Alam Hanif and AFM Bahauddin Nasim also spoke at the programme.

With Bangladesh Krishak League president Samir Chandra Chanda in the chair, its general secretary Umme Kulsum Smriti conducted the event.

At the outset, one minute silence was observed to pay tribute to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other 15 August martyrs.

The prime minister said that Begum Khaleda Zia carried out massacres like the genocide committed by the Pakistani occupation force in 1971. Some 21,000 AL leaders and activists were killed, many others tortured, houses were burnt and occupied, but they finally couldn’t sustain despite such misdeeds, she said.

The AL government, on the other hand, believes in democracy and is showing tolerance, she added.

Referring to the repression unleashed by BNP on AL leaders and activists after 2001 as well as arson violence carried out in 2013, 2014 and 2015, she said: “If we had taken revenge of one per cent (of those acts), your whereabouts couldn’t be found. But we don’t believe in revenge.”

“We didn’t impose any hindrance or restriction on them (BNP) to do politics,” reiterated the AL chief, referring to scenarios where the AL leaders and activists couldn’t enter their party office as it was blocked by the police, but there were no police on that day when she was attacked with grenades on 21 August.

Sheikh Hasina said that BNP leaders should keep in mind that “Khaleda Zia was forced to step down on charges of vote-rigging, and she couldn’t stay in power even for 45 days after the 15 February election in 1996”.

She said BNP in 2006 planned for another election (scheduled to be held in January 2007) with an electoral roll of 13 million fake voters, but finally the election could not take place.

Mentioning that two elections were cancelled due to their misdeeds, she said, “How come they make such big remarks? This It is my question.”

Regarding BNP’s propaganda and movement, she said: “My question is that where are they getting so much money from? Is all the stolen money coming out now? How much money is being spent on each meeting, and where is the money coming from?”

Sheikh Hasina said, “Having lost parents and brothers, I’ve come to the determination of fulfilling my father’s dream by bringing smiles to the faces of sad people in this country.”

She directed all of AL’s affiliated organisations to work in the same way so that no one else can play ducks and drakes with the fate of the people of Bangladesh.

Talking about the outbreak of dengue, the prime minister asked the elected representatives and her party leaders and activists to work to curb the Aedes mosquito, by destroying their breeding spots, removing stagnant water, and making their houses and localities clean.

Drawing a comparison between the fag end of BNP regime and 2023 in the country’s agriculture sector, Sheikh Hasina said the overall food production has increased to 97.9 million tonnes in 2023 from 26.1 million tonnes in 2006.

The production of food grains has increased to 49.2 million tonnes in 2023 from 18 million tonnes in 2006, while the production of fish has increased to 5.31 million tonnes from 2.13 million tonnes in the same time, she said.

The head of government said now 7.9 million hectares of land have come under the irrigation system, which was 2.8 million hectares in 2006.

Besides, she highlighted her government’s success in agricultural research, the production of other agricultural goods, and raising subsidies for the sector.