1942Published on October 22, 2018
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina categorically said the polls must be held in Bangladesh on time, brushing aside confusions about the next general elections.
“The Election Commission is taking preparation for the next polls and it will be held as per the commission’s schedule . . . I believe the election will surely be held,” she told a crowded press conference at Ganabhaban on Monday afternoon.
The premier said certain quarter was deliberately creating the confusion so the democratic continuity was disrupted in the country.
“The absence of democracy may create some scopes for them (who are creating the confusion,” she told the press conference arranged to brief the media about the prime minister’s just-concluded Saudi Arabia visit.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali were present on the dais with the premier, while PM”s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim moderated it.
Sheikh Hasina said “the Election Commission is independent and they are taking preparation for the next polls independently and the government has no role in this regard”.
“We want free and fair elections be staged in Bangladesh and I believe that elections will be held Insha Allah,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina, however, said conspiracies appeared as a phenomenon in Bangladesh politics and “such plots are hatched in Bangladesh frequently” and feared the trend to exist and continue as well.
“But we’ll be able to hold election by thwarting all conspiracies . . . I don’t know what is your opinion about it, but the Awami League and the government have the strength to face any plots,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said she believed on peoples strength and “I think the people have confidence and trust in me”.
The premier said her government is advancing the country socioeconomically by facing everything. “We’re moving ahead as the people are our strength and we believe in that strength,” she said.
Asked if the polls time cabinet would be downsized, the premier said she had talked to the President on the issue and the opposition leader.
“I told her (opposition leader) that we could do it (reconstitute the cabinet during polls time) in the way you want”,” Sheikh Hasina said adding that the existing cabinet comprised representatives of parties having stake in parliament despite the Awami League’s two-third majority.
The premier, however, said “I don’t’ know whether a smaller cabinet is needed” and feared that the projects being implemented and expected to be completed in next two or three months could be upset if the cabinet size was shrink.
“I don’t’ know whether the work of these schemes is disrupted if the ministers are excluded from the cabinet” while the government wanted to finish these projects quickly, she said.
The premier said all her cabinet colleagues were working for implementing the projects while “we are approving a huge number of projects everyday and implementing those speedily”.
“The question is that whether there will be any obstruction to development (if the cabinet is downsized) and we are still thinking about it,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said she also reviewed the polls time practices of parliamentary democracies like Australia, New Zealand, Britain and India and found that “they don’t change the cabinet during polls time and their leaders said cabinet reconstitution during polls time was needless”.
“(Yet) let’s see what happens, if the opposition demands then we will change and if they don’t demand, there is nothing to do,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said before the 2014 election her government wanted to form the polls-time government comprising all parties while Begum Khaleda Zia was the opposition leader.
“I asked her that let’s form cabinet together and I was ready to give them any ministry but they didn’t come at that time . . . but we formed a small cabinet with members of other opposition parties and completed the election,” the premier said.
Talking about the recently formed Jatiya Oikyafront, the premier said Awami League is not at all worried about it.
She said there are political freedom, freedom of speech and the freedom of journalism in the country. “Everything is open here and our judiciary is also independent,” she said.
Welcoming the new alliance, the prime minister said, “I welcome that political parties have got united. It (unity) is needed. Where’s the problem if all can get united and achieve a political success?” she said.
The premier, however, said all will have to be careful that who got united under the alliance and what type of people they are. “What role they played in the past. What are their conversation styles and you’ve seen that how they could use abusive remarks towards the women,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said, “We want them to do good job. Awami League is not at all worried about. It’s good to see that they have got united.”
She said the anti-liberation forces, who patronized and rewarded Bangabandhu’s killers and created terrorism and militancy and made Bangladesh champion in corruption for five times, got united.
“Those who declared emergency and filed cases and arrested many Awami League leaders including me got united under one platform,” she said, adding that it matters a lot that in which eyes the people of Bangladesh are watching it.
The premier said: “I don’t see anything wrong and we want them to earn political trustworthiness or other thing from the people.”
She said many of those who formed the new alliance once did Awami League politics. “Moving far away from the Awami League, they have now formed new alliance against the Awami League.”
In politics, she said, all have this freedom. “They have a freedom of delivering political speech and doing politics as there is no emergency and martial law,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the democratic trend has been established in Bangladesh and all have a scope to do politics freely.
“I think availing this scope, those who got united and formed the new alliance did a good job and for this I thank them,” she said.
About the seven-point demand of the alliance, the prime minister said their demands reached to seven points from four. “I’m waiting how far their points go, and after then I will make comments,” she said.
Responding to another question about the making and breaking of the alliance, Sheikh Hasina said, “I want to see to what extent this game of making and breaking alliance reaches.”
About launching of election campaign of the alliance from Sylhet shrines, the premier said it’s good that they will start their campaign from Sylhet.
“But if anyone wants to unleash fire terrorism in the country the government will do whatever necessary against them and the people will also resist them,” she said.
In this connection, the premier said, “I would like to call upon the people to put up resistance against such conspiracies. “Then none could do it,” she said.
The prime minister came down heavily on Jatiya Oikyafront leader Barrister Moinul Hosein for making an abusive comment on a female journalist on a television live show.
Highlighting various negative past incidents of Barrister Moinul, Sheikh Hasina said she knew many of his offences and would disclose those at an appropriate time.
The premier also raised the question about Moinul’s attitude on the TV live show, saying that what you are expecting from whom?
She said it’s Moinul who collaborated with Pakistanis during the liberation war and he was also responsible for abducting eminent journalist Sirajuddin Hossain from Ittefaq.
The prime minister said Barrister Moinul joined Khandaker Moshtaque’s party after the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975 and then he formed a party with Bangabandhu’s self-confessed killers Bazlul Huda, Aziz Pasha and Sultan Shahriar Khan. “So how would you expect a gentle behavior from him,” she questioned.
Posing a question that why Barrister Moinul’s link to Jamaat will have to be proved, Sheikh Hasina said there is a video that displayed Moinul addressing Shibir’s meeting and it was also published in the Ittefaq.
In this connection, she asked the journalists to expose his Jamaat connection by highlighting this incident.
Sheikh Hasina also advised the female journalists to protest against Barrister Moinul.
Talking about the road accidents, the premier said: “We always put blame on the drivers for the accidents. But the pedestrians should abide by the traffic rules and awareness is also needed for them.”
“You could not stop the people crossing roads here and there by inflicting punishment to the workers leaders … highlight the matter that the people don’t cross roads violating traffic rules,” she added.