Bangladesh replied to criticisms by constructing Padma Bridge: HPM Sheikh Hasina

 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her government gave a befitting reply to insults heaped upon Bangladesh over so- called "corruption" by constructing the giant Padma Bridge with own funding.

"Through constructing the Padma Bridge with own finances, we could give a befitting reply to those who heaped insults upon us and undermined Bangladesh's ability," she said on her return home after a three-week visit to the United States and Britain.

Speaking in response to a reception for her successful participation in the just concluded 72nd UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York, the premier said the implementation of the mega project on its own brightened further Bangladesh's image abroad.

Bangladesh Awami League hosted the reception at the VVIP Lounge of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport as the prime minister returned home wrapping up her three-week visit.

Sheikh Hasina, however, said constructions of the bridge with own funding was a big challenge for the government as "ill attempts" were made to defame her, her family and the government.

She said a vested quarter tried to "stigmatize us" with false allegations of corruption spearheading a massive propaganda while some "enthusiastic people" wanted to mislead the people regarding the issue.

Many people, the premier said, thought when an international agency brought the allegation so it was true "but I had the self confidence".

"I have come for the country. We have come for changing the lot of the people, not of mine," she said.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister and AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader also spoke on the occasion.

The prime minister recalled that she and her family had to go through a mental torment when the international agency brought allegation of corruption regarding the Padma Bridge construction.

"Everybody at that time used to see us in such way that we did a great misdeed," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the international agency at that time started carrying out propaganda suspending the funding for the project on the plea of graft launching an investigation to prove their allegation.

"I naturally said that no corruption took place in the project and if it happens, then it will have to be proved. But those who brought the graft allegation couldn't prove it," she said.

The prime minister said the corruption of "the man" who was most vocal about the so-called graft involving Padma Bridge off late unearthed and "as many as 40,000 pages containing his graft have been disclosed".

Sheikh Hasina said many didn't believe that her government would be able to construct the bridge by its own fund and "even some cabinet members could not believe it".

"But I promised that we won't construct the bridge as long as we couldn't build it in our own finance," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said many had feared the debacle could affect election results in areas which were to be linked through the proposed bridge but "I replied that we won't make it for greed of power and election victory".

The premier said she believed that the victory of truth and time was inevitable but "patience will have to be kept" for that to happen.

Sheikh Hasina said along with her sister Sheikh Rehana she spent sleepless night in Washington on the day when the first span of the bridge was installed.

"We both cried when we received the message of the installation of the first span of the bridge at 3 am on that night," she mentioned.

Sheikh Hasina congratulated the Bangladesh people both at home and abroad for extending their unalloyed support to help complete the dream project that would connect the southern region of the country with the capital.

She said the peoples trust and confidence which her government earned made it possible to construct the bridge with own finance and "there is nothing greater than achieving trust and confidence of the people for a politician."

"This is the biggest gift (I achieved)," she said.

Photo: Saiful Islam Kallol

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