- Published on Sunday, 15 October 2017 17:18
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Renewing her vow to further strengthen the foundation of democracy, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said Awami League wants that the next general election be held in a free and impartial manner.
"We want that the next (national) polls will be staged in a free and neutral manner as we made a struggle for establishing voting rights of the people," she said
Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, was addressing a joint meeting of the party's Advisory Council and Central Working Committee at her official Ganabhaban residence here this evening.
The prime minister said her party wants to give democracy an institutional shape by protecting voting rights of the people.
"Our goal is to further consolidate the foundation of democracy and none can snatch the fundamental rights of the people in future ... we want to do whatever is necessary to achieve the target," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said that her party wants that the people will exercise their voting rights freely, neutrally and without fear, which is their constitutional and basic right.
"If this system can be ensured in the country there will be a transparency and accountability of all, while the rights of the people will be established ... and we want that," she said.
Pointing out the introduction of transparent ballot box and preparing a flawless voter list with photographs, Sheikh Hasina said these were introduced following the proposal of the Awami League.
About the electronic voting machine (EVM), she said many countries of the world are using EVM where a voter can cast one vote.
"Before the 2008 polls, Awami League also proposed for using EVM in the polls and it was used in some elections on an experimental basis," she said, adding, "If this system comes, we want that also."
Mentioning that various by-polls and local government elections were held in a free, fair and impartial manner, the prime minister said her government didn't obstruct or change the results of the polls or didn't torture the people.
In this regard, the AL president mentioned that BNP candidates won in many local government elections. "In four city corporations elections all BNP candidates became victorious," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said it was the Awami League who fought for ensuring vote and food for the people. "We launched a movement how the election could be transparent and we first raised the slogan -- Amar vote ami debo, jake khushi take debo," she said.
The prime minister said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman presented the constitution within nine months of the country's independence and the national elections were held in 1973 on its basis.
She said but the politics of killing, coup and conspiracy began in the country after overthrowing the elected government in 1975. Through it the playing ducks and drakes with the voting rights of the people also started in the country, she said.
In this connection, she mentioned the holding of farcical "yes-no" vote and Presidential election by military dictator Ziaur Rahman. General Zia contested the election by violating army act and constitution, she said.
She said General Zia formed political party after capturing state power and he destroyed democratic process to cling to power.
"Running the country through martial law was introduced and playing ducks and drakes with the voting rights of the people were initiated at that time ... from that time we saw how the game was played with election time and again," she said.
The prime minister said General Ershad made same things after grabbing power. "We restored the democratic rights of the people through a long struggle. But Khaleda Zia disrupted it after coming to power and she staged voter-less polls on Feb 15 in 1996," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the people of the country didn't accept the 15th February election and Khaleda Zia was forced to resign within one and half months as the people waged a movement against it.
She said various incidents like changing constitution happened through martial law ordinances. The military junta captured everything from judiciary to parliament.
She said the retirement age of the judges of the higher court was extended to 65 from 62. "But the judges were removed from their post after reducing their age limit to 62 again from 65 during the military rule of Zia," she said, adding such incidents happened time and again.
Sheikh Hasina said even judges were removed from their post through martial law ordinances when they were conducting court. "A judge was given an ambassador job abroad at that time."
The prime minister said the job of 10 judges who were appointed by the Awami League government was not confirmed by the BNP-Jamaat nexus when it came to power in 2001.
Sheikh Hasina said the self-confessed killers of Bangabandhu were put on state power by Khaleda Zia through 15th February election, while she handed over the national flag that was earned through the blood of millions of martyrs to war criminals by making them ministers.
She said the military dictators and Khaleda Zia had taken corruption as a policy and created an elite class to cling to power.
The prime minister said Khaleda Zia wanted to cling to power by making her party man as the caretaker government chief and preparing a fake voter list with 1.23 crore voters.
Referring to mindless violence and atrocities unleashed by the BNP-Jamaat nexus in 2013 and 2014 to foil elections, the Awami League president said the people put up resistance against the destructive acts of the BNP-Jamaat clique at that time.
Sheikh Hasina hoped that Bangladesh would certainly be a middle-income country by the year 2021 and a developed and prosperous one by 2041.
She said the Padma Bridge is now visible and it's a great achievement of the present government.
Photo: Saiful Islam Kallol