Election on time as per constitution, don't doubt this: PM Hasina

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the ruling Awami League-led 14-party grand alliance meeting at her official Ganabhaban residence on 19 July 2023.

Next parliamentary election will be held on time in light of the constitution, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday. She also asked the partners of ruling Awami League-led 14-party alliance not to cast doubt on this.

The Awami League will also participate in the next parliamentary election along with the 14-party alliance, she told a meeting of the top leaders of the Awami League-led 14-party grand alliance at her official Ganabhaban residence in the capital on Wednesday evening.

Several sources present at the meeting confirmed it.

According the meeting sources, the prime minister heard the speeches of almost all the leaders of the alliance partners at the meeting that lasted about two and a half hours.

Alliance leaders spoke about the activities of the US and the European Union centring the next national election. Several leaders described the initiatives as conspiracy and interference in internal affairs of the country.

Almost all the leaders praised the stance and role of the prime minister on the election and the foreigners’ activities. To this end, the leaders supported the decision and remarks of the prime minister.

Prime minister delivered an introductory speech at the beginning of the meeting. She then spoke several times at the closed-door meeting and at last she clarified her message on election. The prime minister said no matter how much conspiracy is at play election would be held on time as per the constitution and there is no doubt over it.

Mentioning that the next election will be free, fair and peaceful, she told the alliance partners that the election will be participatory and she believes all parties will join the polls.

According to the sources present at the meeting, prime minister spoke about the movement of the opposition BNP. She said BNP didn’t take the 2018 polls seriously and their motive was to put the election on question. This time, BNP is also trying to make the election questionable, but Awami League remains alert.

Mentioning people stand by her, prime minister said there had also been conspiracy in the past, but she overcame those and this time she would be able to do so.

Regarding global politics, prime minister said her policy is friendship to all, but she won’t bow down to anyone in particular, according to the sources.

The sources also said two leaders raised the issue of the 14-party alliance's expansion, but most of the leaders opposed it. At that time, prime minister Sheikh Hasina mentioned that the 14-party alliance is an ideological alliance saying this alliance will not expand, but there can be coalition on election with others if there is any necessity.

The meeting sources said the prime minster remarked that the attack on independent candidate Ashraful Hossen alias Hero Alom of the Dhaka-17 constituency’s by-election was a sabotage and she instructed the people concerned to look into who help him contest in the election and gave him the money to vie the polls.

Sources present at the meeting further said leaders of several alliance partners requested the prime minister to play a role to curb the rising price of essentials and the corruption ahead of the election. Almost all the leaders spokes about spreading the activities of the 14-party alliance at grassroots.

Mentioning the government is working to control price of daily necessities, prime minister said food assistance will continue through the card of TCB (Trading Corporation of Bangladesh) and 100,000 families benefit from it. Besides, the government is also taking special initiative for jute workers.

A leader of an alliance partner slammed the meetings the EU delegation held with Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and Amar Bangladesh Party (AB Party). Another leader remarked the march of BNP will turn violent day by day and Jamaat may take advantage of it to carry out killings.

Sources said several partners of the alliance also spoke about launching of the election campaign in next September-October and starting talks on the distribution of parliamentary seats among the alliance partners.

Awami League also issued a press release on the proposals adopted at the meeting on Wednesday night. It said when Bangladesh is advancing under the bravery, wisdom, honesty and capacity of Sheikh Hasina, at that time a profound conspiracy is underway to divert the nation from the main idea of the creation of Bangladesh. The conspirators in association with a vested quarter are encouraging foreign powers for unnecessary interference in the internal politics of Bangladesh.

Proposal adopted at the meeting further said a certain quarter is plotting to disrupt the constitutional governance of the country and their motive is to disrupt the constitutional rule and on-going development. Besides, the plotters are involved in a conspiracy to foil the upcoming parliamentary election, and the 14-party alliance will never compromise with any unconstitutional conspiracy that goes against the interest of the people.

News agency BSS reports: Mentioning that the country's economy is running ahead despite the pressure of global recession, prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the government is taking required measures to face the next challenges of becoming a developing nation after 2026.

"The dollar crisis is all over the world and it is also applicable to us, even though I will say that the country's economy keeps running," she said.

Sheikh Hasina, also president of the Bangladesh Awami League (AL), said that there will have some advantages after Bangladesh becomes a developing nation alongside some challenges.

In this connection, she said a sub-committee, headed by the prime minister's principal secretary, is working to scrutinise the opportunities and challenges after Bangladesh's full graduation as a developing nation.

"All the issues (regarding being a developing nation) are being settled down through discussion," she added.

The prime minister said that the government is pulling the country ahead, accommodating all aspects of society and that is why today's Bangladesh is a role model of development for the entire world.

Highlighting the corruption during the regime of the BNP, the prime minister said that the government is trying to bring back the money siphoned off by BNP leaders to different countries.

"The money of many BNP leaders still remains frozen (in foreign banks). We've been trying to bring that money back gradually," she said.

Criticising the family of Khaleda Zia for their corruption, she said the World Bank stopped financing the BNP during their regime due to corruption in the road sector.

Sheikh Hasina said that the corruption committed by Khaleda Zia's two sons - Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman Koko - came to light even before the foreigners and FBI agent testified against Tarique in a money laundering case.

The government was able to bring back Tk 400 million from the money that they (Tarique and Koko) laundered to foreign countries, she said, adding "But, the problem is that bringing back the money from the countries where they deposited is a difficult matter. The countries don't want to release the money."

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the ruling Awami League-led 14-party grand alliance meeting at her official Ganabhaban residence on 19 July 2023.

Focusing on her government's success, the Prime Minister said Bangladesh has significantly advanced in every sector since 2009.

"We can at least claim that Bangladesh has changed a lot in 14 and half years. You can definitely realise it as well," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has successfully brought the poverty rate down to 18.6 per cent now from 41 per cent in 2006, while the extreme poverty rate to 5.7 per cent from 25.1 per cent.

She said the government has been able to boost the production of foods, including crops, fish, meat and vegetables, as well as provide free semi-pucca houses to 600,000 landless families apart from reaching the electricity facility for every house by increasing power generation capacity significantly.

The Premier said there is no shortage of rice and other crops in Bangladesh.

"We've achieved electricity generation capacity of 25,000 megawatts within the last 14 and half years," she said.

Mentioning that the government is setting up 100 special economic zones to generate employment, she said the unemployment rate has come down to only 3 per cent in the country.

She said the government continues its steps to create entrepreneurs by providing different stimulus packages and imparting training to the youths to further bring down the unemployment rate.

"We've taken and implemented massive works not only for the infrastructural development of Bangladesh but also for its socio-economic uplift," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the country's people at first realised that people can get services from the government and only the Awami League government has ensured that whenever the party assumed power.

Bangladesh deviated from its ideology when the BNP-Jamaat alliance assumed power in 2001 and they denigrated the nation across the globe, she added.

She said AL assumed power in 2009 after winning the national election in 2008 and, since then, it has been in state power and "Today I can say that in the last 14 and a half years Bangladesh has been changed tremendously".