Sunday, 4 December, 2022

No talks on polls, hints PM

Govt wants all parties to join election, she says

  • Special Correspondent
  • 7 October, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news
No talks on polls, hints PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday hinted that no talks will be held with the political parties ahead of the next general election.

“Getting invitation or inviting others is now less frequent due to the current coronavirus-induced situation. The virus often marks a sharp rise. Even journalists are not allowed at my office. So, we have to think about it considering the coronavirus situation. Many (political parties) will also not come (for talks) while many others will not be able to join it,” she said.

The prime minister came up with the remarks while responding to a question as to whether the political parties will be invited for talks ahead of next general election like previous occasions while addressing a press conference on the outcome of her visits to the United Kingdom and the United States at her official residence Ganabhaban.

Over the participation in the polls, Sheikh Hasina, also president of ruling Awami League, said whether the political parties will join the election or not is their own matter. “It’s the decision of the respective political parties. We can’t force any party to contest the polls. Political parties must take their own decision if they want to do politics. But, we do want all the parties to take part in the election,” she said.

She expressed the hope that all the parties will participate in the next general election to test their popularity. “We want all the political parties to participate in the polls. Awami League has never assumed office by rigging votes. Awami League has assumed the office by winning the elections,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina slammed Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) for seeking ‘blessings’ from foreigners. “If they had the roots on the soil of the land, they would not have taken foreigners’ blessings,” she said.

She said the BNP leaders forgot their past misdeeds, including burning people to death.

“How will they go to the people to seek votes? That’s why, they’re holding meetings with diplomats to have their blessings,” she said.

Responding to a query about sanctions against Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the prime minister said the elite force was formed as per the suggestions of the United States. “The US has been providing training, arms and all sorts of support for the elite force and it is acting in the manner it has learnt,” she said.

“We’ve curbed violence with the help of RAB. The US has imposed sanctions on that force which has uprooted violence. Now I have a question whether the US is unhappy as there’s no act of violence in Bangladesh” she said.

Responding to another question about the impending economic crisis, Sheikh Hasina assured the country’s people that there is nothing to be worried as Bangladesh’s economy is in a quite strong position. “Bangladesh’s economy, in terms of midterm and long-term aspects, is at no risk. I can ensure all of you that there’s nothing to worry,” she said.

Mentioning that the government has put concentration on making the economy vibrant overcoming all challenges, she said they have put emphasis on the issue of mitigating people’s sufferings of any kind.

                “There’s nothing to worry…if we all think that this is our country and we all together have to pull the country ahead.”

The prime minister said in the US, she urged the Bangladeshi expatriates living there to convey her messages to their near and dear ones back home to ensure the maximum utilisation of their every inch of land and produce whatever they can.

She said whenever Awami League comes to power, it takes the country forward. “So, I can say that we’ll be able to achieve desired economic indicators. But, our people will have to remain conscious,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina also said there is nothing to be worried about the foreign exchange reserves as the 1996 AL government started its journey with only US$ 1 billion forex reserves when electricity generation capacity was 1,300MW, food shortage was 4 million tonnes and the literacy rate was only 45 percent. "I can promise you that there’s no risk in Bangladesh in any case."

She said it is true that Awami League could not come to power in 2001 only for local and foreign conspiracies for not agreeing to sell gas to foreign countries. “But if the party had done so, it would not have been possible to continue electricity transmission even with some load shedding today and the country would have plunged into darkness.”

The prime minister said there are threats from the opposition parties of agitation and struggle, which is their job and they will continue to do it. “But if the opposition had been so strong, a lot would have happened.”

After assuming power, she said, the AL government has opened up every sector to the private sector.

Sheikh Hasina said she has confidence and trust in the people and that is why they have taken the decision.

Responding to a question about the Rohingya crisis, the prime minister said she urged the United Nations to take steps to resolve the crisis.

She said she talked to the UN officials and pressed for a solution to the crisis as Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1 million Rohingyas.

Sheikh Hasina met UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi regarding the Rohingya repatriation in New York when she raised the issues of environmental destruction, drug trafficking and criminal activities committed by the Myanmar’s displaced nationals.

Discussion is also underway with Myanmar to repatriate the Rohingyas soon, she added.

Bangladesh has been hosting the Rohingyas for the last five years since the latest influx happened in 2017, and it is not possible to host them anymore as international assistance for them is decreasing now, the prime minister said, adding that so they should be repatriated.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and former Agriculture Minister and Awami League presidium member Begum Matia Chowdhury were present on the dais.