"Vote for Boat": HPM Sheikh Hasina inaugurates election campaign in Sylhet

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Published on December 20, 2023
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In front of a sea of supporters – numbering in the hundreds of thousands – Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina gave out a warning to the BNP: "If you play with fire, you will burn your hands."

Addressing the BNP at the Awami League's public meeting in Sylhet's Alia Madrasa Field – which kicked off the party's election campaign – PM Hasina called on the people to strengthen resistance against bombings and arson attacks.

Asking the people to vote for Boat in the upcoming elections – slated for 7 Jan – she said the boat was "the Prophet Noah's Boat".

"This is the boat that saved the human race. The people of Bangladesh got freedom by voting for Boat. They got development. Vote for Boat again and make it victorious. No one can hold Bangladesh down."

Hundreds of thousands join Sylhet rally as PM Hasina kicks off election campaign
"We talked about building a Digital Bangladesh and we did that. Now, we will build a smart Bangladesh. If I am elected again, I will build a Bangladesh incorporating modern technology."

Speaking about the BNP's stance against the election, she said, "The black sheep sits in London and gives orders. In turn, people are burned and killed here…Where do they get so much courage?"

She said the government could not be thrown out by setting fire to vehicles, adding, "The elections cannot be stopped."

"I have lost everything. I have no one but one sister. The people are my everything, so there's no point scaring me", said PM Sheikh Hasina.

Revisiting 2001, she said the USA had proposed that Bangladesh's gas be sold to them.

"I didn't agree and because of this, we were not allowed to come to power. The BNP came to power by making a bond over the gas sale with them. That is when the misrule began," she said.

Highlighting the development achieved under the AL government, she said, "The BNP [on the other hand] is burning people and destroying the country's wealth. From 2013 to 2015, they burned about 3,000 people. After coming to polls in 2018, they started the nomination business."

Sheikh Hasina said today's Bangladesh was a Digital Bangladesh, with everyone having a mobile phone.

"When we came to power in 1996, we gave cellular service. Now, even the internet is available in villages."

Referring to the development of Sylhet during the AL's tenure, she said, "The Sylhet-Dhaka Highway is being upgraded to six lanes. The Osmani airport is being modernised. Studies are also being conducted on whether a metro rail can be started in Sylhet. As we developed Sylhet, we met every target."

On the location of her rally, she said, "I started politics in Sylhet after returning to the country in 1981. Since then, I always come to Sylhet. This time also I started campaigning from Sylhet."

Referring to the arson attacks carried out allegedly by BNP supporters, Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the party is more ruthless than Israeli forces.

"BNP is more cruel than Israeli forces. They set fire to a roadside bus and burned its helper to death," Quader said.

He further said, "Their [BNP] claim that the government will be toppled within five days after the election is baseless. BNP's blockades, strikes, and intimidation tactics lack credibility. They have received a red card; now, the game will continue.

"Where is the BNP now? It ran away. They said Sheikh Hasina will run away after 27 October, but they are the ones who ran."

He said the BNP was not in the game anymore.

"They will start playing on the 7th [polls day]."

Terming the BNP's strikes, hartals and politics fake, he said, "Their anti-Bangladesh conspiracy should be stopped. BNP leaders are not human beings; they are beasts. With them, there will be no democracy, no communal harmony and no peace. They should be wiped out from Bangladesh."