Inter-party political counterfire marks budget discussions as BNP’s Khaleda Zia’s reinstated demand for Caretaker Government is firmly denied by Awami League’s Sheikh Hasina amid controversy over US revocation of GSP and much political finger-pointing.
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Saturday reiterated that the next national elections would be held the way they were conducted in other democracies.
Rejecting the opposition’s demand for restoring the provision for caretaker government, the prime minister said the forces the opposition wanted to invite by making such demands would stay for long.
‘Elections will be held in line with the constitution. There will be no unconstitutional administration. I do not understand why the opposition does not trust people? Have faith in people, they will vote and we will accept their verdict. We have to move forward at least for one time to help democracy flourish,’ she said.
Hasina said results of the polls to four city corporations indicated that the Election Commission was strong enough to conduct neutral polls. ‘The Election Commission is financially independent and it is capable enough to hold neutral elections. A country cannot move forward without a democratic system,’ she said.
She warned the opposition that those who were vocal for a ‘third force’ had backed the ‘minus-two’ conspiracies. She alerted the countrymen to the plots of the proponents of ‘third force’.
‘Yes, we demanded the caretaker government provision because your [Khaleda] government had held elections of vote rigging,’ she said admitting that she had launched movement for a non-partisan election-time administration in mid-90s. She said that her government believed in people’s empowerment and conducted 5,654 elections, including by-polls, in a credible manner.
Hasina also shrugged off the opposition’s warning that the incumbents would be the worst victim if the events of January 11, 2007 repeated.
‘I was not in power at that time but they arrested me first. The opposition leader was also arrested and her sons were sent into exile on undertaking after torture,’ she said amid protests from opposition lawmakers. Hasina showed a copy of the undertaking given by Tarique Rahman.
Hasina also warned Khaleda of the activities of Moudud Ahmed saying, ‘The man next to you has no consistency. He left you in the past and joined Ershad.’
The prime minister came down hard on the opposition for waging ‘information terrorism’ by spreading falsehood in the name of Islam.
She said rights group Odhikar and daily Amar Desh had waged information terrorism to mislead the people. She said photographs of the change of gilaf in Holy Kaba and bodies of the victims of the Haiti tremor were doctored and used to mislead the voters in the four city corporation polls by claiming that those were pictures of the operation against Islamists. She showed some of the doctored photographs.
‘They try to brand us atheist. If we are atheists, who are believers? I leave it to the people to decide who are believers,’ she said adding that the opposition had tried to realise their evil designs by putting the gun on Hefajat’s shoulder.
Hasina castigated Khaleda for writing an article in The Washington Times, a US newspaper, in which the latter had apparently advocated the cancellation of GSP facility for Bangladesh.
Right before Hasina’s speech, Khaleda in the house denied having written any such article, but Hasina insisted she indeed was the author.
‘There are lots of similarities between that article and her speech today. If she did not write it then who did it? Whoever drafted her speech did a very good job,’ Hasina quipped.
‘She [Khaleda] recommended the enforcement of ‘other sanctions’ to put a stop on the economic activities of the country. Do you know what this other sanctions mean? I am mentioned in this article 12 times. It is all right if you choose to write against me. But why against the country,’ she said.
Hasina said US had been threatening to cancel the GSP since 2007. And the leader of the opposition wrote to the Washington Times, whose owner happens to be a Jew, suggesting that the GSP be revoked, she said.
About the problems in the World Bank funding in Padma Bridge project, Hasina said the problems cropped up after a ‘gentleman’ was removed from the position of the managing director of a bank.
‘Threats were issued over the fate of the project if that gentleman was not allowed to continue as the MD of that bank. We did not bow to such threats. I will not allow anyone to play with the lives of crores of people in the southern districts…,’ she said.
Hasina said she had challenged World Bank that there was no corruption in the project and later they stepped back saying that there was no corruption but ‘conspiracies of corruption.’
‘Attempts were made to malign me and my family over the project but they failed. We have begun work on the project on own funding and it proves the strength of our economy,’ she said.
Hasina said she might have to meet the fate of her father for not bowing down to anyone. ‘I would rather die but will not let anyone demean the people,’ she said.
Source: New Age
Image: Daily Star