SANGSAD BHABAN: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday came down heavily on BNP for making a convict its chairman and expressed her doubt about the ability of the party to do any good to the people as “it has taken corruption as its principle”.
“I want to tell the countrymen and parliament members through hounourable Speaker what work will be done by a party which has taken graft as its principle by amending its constitution,” she said referring to election of Tarique Zia as the BNP chairman after its Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia landed in jail in the Zia Orphanage Trust Case.
While delivering her valedictory speech in the 19th session of the 10th Jatiya Sangsad, the Leader of the House said by electing Tarique Zia as the chairman, the BNP could plunder resources, kill people and commit corruption. “They couldn’t make any welfare of the people … it’s reality,” she said.
The prime minister said Begum Zia was convicted in a graft case, but her responsibility was given to such a person who was also a convict and doesn’t stay in the country.
She said the responsibility of the chairman was given to convict Tarique Zia who is staying abroad. “Was not there any single person in BNP to take this responsibility,” she said.
Pointing out the present condition of the BNP, the prime minister said there are a number of corruption cases against those who were supposed to get this charge. Sheikh Hasina said the court has convicted Khaleda Zia in the corruption case. “The government has nothing to do in this regard … the court pronounced the judgement after conducting the trial for 10 years,” she said.
Stating that the Anti-Corruption Commission is fully independent, Sheikh Hasina said her government doesn’t want to give indulgence to graft.
“We don’t want to give indulgence to corruption. The Anti-Corruption Commission is working independently. If the commission has any doubt about our any leader, minister or MP, it can question them by calling them to their office,” she said.
The Leader of the House said the government doesn’t make any interference in the ACC. “We won’t do it … if the graft of anybody is proved, he or she will be punished,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the ministers are appearing before the court by obeying its order. “We abide by law, court and rule … those who will indulge in corruption or militancy must be punished,” she said.
The prime minister said her government never tries to hide its own fault. “We let them conduct fair investigation,” she said.
On the other hand, she said, some BNP leaders are threatening the judge who pronounced the verdict. “Would it be a teaching that thieves cannot be called thieves, killers cannot be called killers and corrupt persons cannot be called corrupt?” she questioned.
Sheikh Hsaina also asked if Bangladesh will be a sanctuary for criminals. “It will not happen and we don’t want it,” she said.
The Leader of the House said her government wants to establish Bangladesh as a peaceful country in the world. “We won’t give any indulgence to terrorism and militancy and our drive against drugs will continue … we won’t give any concession in this regard,” she asserted.
The prime minister said her government has created awareness against terrorism and militancy by involving the cross section of people. “We’ve created awareness in this regard taking the people of all strata with us,” she said.
Pointing out the killing, torture and unbridled corruption harboured by the BNP during its misrule, the prime minister said everybody is bearing the brunt of their misdeeds. Sheikh Hasina said money came from abroad in the name of the Zia Orphanage Trust 27 years ago.
“But where is the trust and where is its address?” “We don’t want to waste time in this regard as it has come in the court proceedings … 10 to 12 flats could be purchased with Tk 2 crore at that time,” she said, adding that Khaleda Zia and her sons could not check the greed of that money.
“They didn’t hand over a single Taka and they embezzled the total amount of money,” she said.
She said the caretaker government unearthed the corruption and the ACC filed the case against Khaleda Zia and her accomplices. “What is the offence of the government here?” she said.
She said the corruption of Khaleda Zia’s sons was proved in the US Federal court and Singapore court. “We’ve brought back some parts of money that they siphoned off abroad,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said efforts were made to file a similar case against her during the caretaker government. “That government seized all accounts of Bangabandhu Memorial Trust and examined all its papers,” she said.
The caretaker government, she said, also carried out investigations whether “we actually give stipends from the trust and tried to find out faults and by the grace of Allah they didn’t find anything.”
Taking a swipe at General Zia for rehabilitating war criminals and the killers of Bangabandhu socially and politically, the prime minister said Zia had allowed war criminals to do politics in the name of multiparty politics. “He also protected Bangabandhu’s killers through an indemnity ordinance,” she said.
Not mentioning name of anybody, the prime minister said there is a “gentleman” in the country, who always gives sermons to the government on TV talk shows, had formed a political party with Bangabandhu’s killers Bazlul Huda and Pasha in the 80s.
“That man formed the party with the killers and spent lakhs of taka for them that came from Ittefaq,” she said.
The prime minister also elaborated BNP’s brutal torture and repression on the Awami League leaders and workers after 2001 general elections. “The Hindus, Christians and the Buddhists — none were spared from their torture at that time,” she said.