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Dialogue for free, participatory polls: PM

Dialogue for free, participatory polls: PM

DHAKA: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said despite repeated insults to her from BNP she had agreed to sit for dialogue with leaders of that party in the greater interest of the people and holding a participatory election.

“We cannot forget the insults but we have decided to go for the talks considering our duty to hold a free and fair election,” she said at a discussion organized by Awami League at city’s Krishibid Institution marking the Jail Killing Day.

“We want to hold an election in a peaceful atmosphere so that people don’t face any trouble or incidents like arson or bomb attack. We want the people of the country to live in peace and exercise their franchise peacefully to form the government of their own choice,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said there should have no doubt that the next election would be held in a free, fair and neutral manner. Aout 6,000 polls at different levels were held in the country during the tenure of present Awami League government. “But our government never interfered to manipulate any election in our favour,” she said.

The prime minister said the Election Commission has been constituted through a ‘Search Committee’ under the guidance of the President where people belonging to all political faiths were included.

“So, there is no scope to raise any allegation of partiality against the existing Election Commission,” she said adding that her party accepted results of all elections held under existing Election Commission.

“Would it have happened if BNP had been in power? And would they have accepted the results of the city corporation elections?” the prime minister asked. “We firmly believe that people are the actual owner of votes and they would cast their votes freely according to their will,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has done huge work for the welfare of the people. “Even then,” she said, “if people don’t give mandate to her party in the next election, it would not hesitate to accept their judgment.”

On this day in 1975, the killers of Bangabandhu stormed into the Dhaka Central Jail in the early hours and assassinated the four national leaders- Tajuddin Ahmed, Syed Nazrul Islam, Captain Monsur Ali and AHM Kamaruzzaman -who led the Liberation War in the absence of Bangabandhu in 1971 and snatched the victory for the nation.

Sheikh Hasina, also the president of Bangladesh Awami League, presided over the discussion.

Advisory council members of Bangladesh Awami League Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed, Presidium Members Matia Chowdhury, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Health Minister Mohammad Nasim, who is also son of slain leader Captain Monsur Ali, and daughter of slain leader Tajuddin Ahmed, Shimin Hossain Rimi, took part in the discussion.

Presidents of Dhaka North and South city units of the party AKM Rahmatullah and Abul Hasnat also spoke on the occasion.

The prime minister said democracy has been restored through a long struggle. “We want to build a sustainable democratic system as it’s the only way for a country to prosper.”

Paying her tributes to the four national leaders, the prime minister said the barbaric killing of the leaders inside the central jail was not merely a killing. “It was aimed at destroying an ideology, erasing all symbols of the victory and thwart out the independence,” she said.

Bangabandhu prepared the nation for the War of Liberation, preparing the road for independence and the four national leaders took that path to liberate the country. The jail killing was a retaliation of the anti-liberation forces against the national leaders for their uncompromising leadership in the war of liberation, the prime minister said.

Sheikh Hasina blasted Ziaur Rahman and his wife Khaleda Zia for patronizing the killers of Bangabandhu and four national leaders, freeing the Pakistani collaborators from jail and giving them positions in the government in different times since 1975.

“Zia and Khaleda Zia never cared for the rule of law while giving indulgence to the killers,” she said adding that Khaleda Zia made Bangabandhu’s killer Rashid the opposition leader in the farcical election of February 15, 1996 to malign her chair as the opposition leader in the parliament.

The prime minister said her party has accepted many demands of the opposition alliance which could be met under the constitutional framework. Some matters solely depend on the Election Commission and judiciary where the government has nothing to do.

Sheikh Hasina wondered about the agitation program of the opposition alliance saying dialogue and agitation cannot continue at the same time. “I don’t know what their purpose of dialogue was and how the countrymen would accept it.”

“Bangladesh has crossed a long way of bloodshed. The architect of the independence was killed along with the key persons of War of Liberation. The gruesome murders were followed by indiscriminate killing of many armed forces officers, Awami League leaders and workers and common people,” she said.

The prime minister said the image of Bangladesh was completely destroyed abroad following those grisly murders. Now, Bangladesh has turned around again which could be possible with Awami League in power.

Sheikh Hasina said all post-1975 governments other than Awami League’s have made their own fortune. Awami League is the only political party which gives importance to improving the living standard of the people up to the grassroots level, she said.

“Awami League is the only party in the country which knows how to give something to the people and change their lot,” she said adding that Bangladesh will prosper only if Awami League remains in power. The country will go again plunge into darkness if any other party comes to power, she said.

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