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No talks before polls: PM

‘Political parties to decide on their own about joining polls’

  • Special Correspondent
  • 27 November, 2022 12:00 AM
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No talks before polls: PM
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks at the triennial council session of Mahila Awami League at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital on Saturday. – Collected photo

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday once again hinted that no talks will be held ahead of the next general election, leaving the political parties to take decision on their own about joining the polls.

“Bangladesh has a multi-party democracy. There has been an Election Commission. If any party wants to participate in the polls, they can do it. If any party has no strength, they may opt out of the election,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina, also president of ruling Awami League, was addressing the sixth triennial council session of Mahila Awami League at historic Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital.

Her remarks came as Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is hell-bent on its demand for reinstating the caretaker government system for holding a credible election, threatening that there would be no election in the country unless a non-party administration is installed.

While addressing a press conference on the outcome of her visits to the United Kingdom and the United States at her official residence Ganabhaban earlier on October 6, the prime minister hinted that no talks would be held with the political parties ahead of the next general election.

At the Suhrawardy Udyan programme, the prime minister asserted that the country’s people will hold an election even if any party boycotts it and they will not allow vote rigging.

Referring to the February 15, 1996 election held by Khaleda Zia, she said the people did not accept the election and thus toppled them from power in one and a half months of the election. “Khaleda Zia had to step down on charge of vote rigging,” she said. 

The AL president was critical of a section of people who underscore the need for talks with BNP before the parliamentary elections.

"Many people say that there should be dialogue. With whom the dialogue will be held? Are they BNP, convicts Khaleda Zia and Tarique Zia who wanted to kill me through the grenade attack?” she said.

Ridiculing such suggestion, Sheikh Hasina said, “They’re talking for holding talks with BNP to take them to the election. I want to ask them ‘what kind of suggestion is it’?” she said.

The prime minister questioned whether they would have to hold dialogue with the corrupt, who embezzled money meant for orphans, money launderers, arms traffickers, grenade attackers and killers.

Ziaur Rahman, husband of Khaleda Zia, was the killer of her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, she said.

Reiterating her government’s strict stance about protecting the lives and property of people, Sheikh Hasina said no one will be spared if they carry out attack on the people. “No one will be spared if they burn people to death in the name of anti-government movement,” she said. 

“We’ve tolerated a lot. Many consider it as our weakness. But it’s not our weakness,” she added.

Marking the council session, the entire Dhaka city wore a festive look as several thousand leaders and activists of Mahila Awami League, including councillors and delegates, thronged the venue and its surrounding areas with colourful festoons, placards and posters since early morning.

The prime minister formally opened the council session by hoisting the national flag and releasing balloons and pigeon.

Referring to arson attacks of the BNP and its clique in 2013-14 in the name of movements, the premier said BNP's movement is to kill innocent people through arson attacks. 

"We have no objection, if you want to do movement and struggle, bring out processions, hold meetings. But, not a single person will be spared if they want to kill anyone with arson, grenade or bomb attacks," she warned.

Briefly describing various measures for overall development of the women folk, Sheikh Hasina said her government has been doing everything possible for the women as she believes no development can take place by keeping women, half of the total population, in the dark.

The premier said her government has been giving allowances to widows, elderly women, lactating mothers and pregnant women to ensure their better living.

The premier said her government has first taken measures appointing women in the armed forces, BGB, police and in the High Court alongside posting women in the top posts of administration and police that included the post of secretary, deputy commissioners, officer-in-charge (OC) and superintendent of police.

The government is doing everything, including reserving 60 percent quota for the women in the primary teachers' recruitment, she said, adding that 20 percent reservation for the women in the local government election and women can participate in the union, upazila and zila parishad elections.

She said there are 23 women in the parliament who are elected directly by people's vote alongside 50 others from the reserved seat.