Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday day blasted perpetrators of “prevent boat” campaign ahead of the elections in the year end, questioning whether they want to install anti-liberation forces and war criminals in power.
“There is a quarter in the country who doesn’t see any development and some are saying that the boat will have to be resisted. My question is —those who want to thwart the boat want to bring the Rajakars and war criminals in power,” she told a grand mass reception at the historic Suhrawadhy Udyan in the capital on Saturday afternoon.
Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, said the “oust boat” campaign does not suit those who believe in democracy and independence but “this word matches in the mouth of those who led a (luxurious) life and grew up by eating the leftovers of the military rulers”.
The premier said the people of the country got the independence and rights to speak in mother tongue by casting vote for the boat, the Awami League’s symbol.
“Bangladesh has become self-reliant in food, entered the nuclear club, launched the first-ever satellite and brought down poverty to 22 percent as the people gave mandate in favour of the boat,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said flood may come in the middle of Bengali calendar months of “Sraban and Bhadra” when the politicians at least would need to get onboard the boats.
“Won’t they get on board the boat at that time … they will require the boat at least to distribute relief,” she said.
Awami League accorded her the reception for Bangladesh’s graduation to a developing nation, launching Bangabandhu Satellite-I, her achievement of Global Women’s Leadership Award and D. Litt from Kazi Nazrul University of Asansole of India’s West Bengal.
Parliamentary Deputy Leader of and Awami League’s senior Presidium member Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury presided over the function when party’s General Secretary and Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader read out a citation or “obhinondon patra” congratulating the premier and party President on her achievements and handed it over to her.
Senior leaders of the party were present on the dais.
Earlier on her arrival at the venue at 3:30 pm, the premier was greeted by thousands of leaders and workers of Awami League and its associate bodies waving hands and miniature flags of their respective organisations.
The prime minister pointed out that the “prevent boat” campaigners were now claiming “they will bring back democracy in the country”.
“But if democracy doesn’t exist in the country how the people elected their candidates of choice by casting votes,” she asked.
Sheikh Hasina said over six thousand elections including local government body polls were held in the last nine and a half years and the people elected their candidates through voting.
“The voting rights of the people are now in their own hands,” she said.
The Awami League president said introduction of transparent ballot box and a flawless voter list with photographs was the demand of her party so that the people could exercise their franchise freely and elect representatives of their choice.
She said during the two successive tenures of her government Bangladesh graduated to a developing country from the LDC group, achieved 7.78 percent GDP growth and brought down inflation to 5.6 percent benefitting the common people.
“But it’s unfortunate that we have to listen from some people that achievements of higher GDP and becoming developing country are not good,” she said.
The premier said those who amassed wealth at home and abroad and changed their own fortune by bringing money from abroad through showing our poor and thin people were making such propaganda to misguide the people.
She expressed her doubt whether the quarters who think that achievements of higher GDP and becoming developing country are not good really believe in the country’s existence and independence.
The prime minister said her government would take the country forward further by keeping up the achievements of higher GDP growth and graduation of developing country.
The prime minister highlighted government’s tremendous successes in different sectors including resolving land boundary dispute and maritime dispute with the neighbouring countries, signing of Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty and Ganges Water Agreement.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu first took initiatives for solving the land boundary dispute with India.
But after his assassination, no successive governments of Zia, Ershad and Khaleda Zia took any measures in this regard, she said, adding they utter anti-Indian words in mouth, but flatten the country inside and they forgot to raise demand of the country
The PM said a former prime minister when was in power forgot raising the issue of the Ganges Water Sharing when she visited India. “But Awami League doesn’t forget as the country, its existence and the rights of the people are bigger,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government achieved a huge success against rooting out militancy and terrorism of which seed was sowed by the BNP. “Now our operations against the narcotics are going on,” she said.
Vowing to free the country, society and the youths from the curse of the drugs, the premier said her government wants to utilize the talent, thinking and strength properly to build the country. “We have firm belief that we will also be successful in this regard as the people are with us,” she said.
The prime minister in her hour-long speech also mentioned the destructive acts like killing and arson attacks of the BNP-Jamaat nexus from 2013-2015 and their atrocities on the people after the 2001 general election.
At the outset of her speech, she paid rich tributes to Bangabandhu, the four national leaders, martyred freedom fighters as well as party leaders and workers who sacrificed their lives for restoration of democracy in the country.
Sheikh Hasina dedicated her all achievements to the people of the country and expressed gratitude to all concerned who extended cooperation to her to bring these successes.
The prime minister said her government took steps to introduce bullet train on Dhaka-Chittagong route and purchase seven more modern aircraft for further development of the communication system.
Earlier, a cultural function was also staged where noted singer of the country Mamtaz first performed songs which was followed by a ‘Geetinatya’ titled ‘Amar Priya Bangladesh’ presented by Sadia Islam Mou and the artistes of Bangladesh Academy of Fine Arts (BAFA).
Artistes of ‘Nandan Kala Kendra’ also performed songs and recited poems with dance dedicating to the prime minister.
The main part of the function commenced with recitation from the holy books — the holy Quran, Geeta, Bible and Tripitak.
AL Publicity and Publication Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmood and Deputy Secretary Aminul Islam Amin conducted the main part of the reception, while party’s Cultural Affairs Secretary Ashim Kumar Ukil conducted the cultural function.
Apart from AL and its associate body leaders and workers of Dhaka and adjoining districts, a cross section of people including pro-liberation political party leaders and workers joined the function at the tastefully-decorated Suhrawardy Udyan.