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PM: I will be everyone’s premier

  • Published at 02:34 pm December 31st, 2018
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina briefing the foreign observers and journalists who monitored Sunday’s election, at Ganabhaban in Dhaka on Monday, December 31, 2018 Focus Bangla

The Awami League chief addresses foreign observers and journalist who monitored Sunday’s election

Prime Minister Hasina has said that she will discharge her responsibilities as the “premier of all” during her upcoming five-year tenure.

She said her first priority would be to continue the economic activities so that people may have a better life.

The prime minister made the remarks during an interaction with the foreign observers and journalists, who monitored Sunday’s polls, at Ganabhaban in Dhaka in the afternoon.

The prime minister, however, said the Grand Alliance largely won the polls in view of the benefit her government offered the people in the past 10 years, cutting down the poverty rate, improving their financial condition and enhancing the GDP.

She said that the opposition parties, including BNP and its Jatiya Oikya Front alliance, managed to win in only seven constituencies in the 11th general election as they did not nominate eligible candidates.

BNP and Oikya Front were also denied by the people for their criminal activities, including terrorism and corruption, she said on Sunday. “There is no fault from our part.”

Bagging 267 seats, Hasina secured a third successive term in office with her ruling party and its Grand Alliance partners, winning the polls held in 299 constituencies by a landslide.

BNP and its Oikya Front alliance won only seven seats; while Jatiya Party managed to win 20, making sure it will return to parliament as the main opposition despite being a ruling party ally.

Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said that the opposition was in a state of wilderness that caused their debacle in the polls.

“It was a credible and transparent election... but [opposition] BNP’s debacle in the polls was caused by their own faults and weakness.”

She said BNP indulged in nomination trade and put their nominations on auction. "As a result, many competent candidates who had good prospect to win the election were left out.

"They had just indulged in trade while choosing their candidates. What can you expect from them? That's the question. People gave their mandate in favour of us.”

Replying to a question, she said her party never believed in the politics of taking revenge.

"Rather, Awami League works for the development of people considering them as human being once it gets elected."

Vacuum in BNP leadership

The prime minister indentified BNP’s leadership vacuum as their prime weakness, reports BSS.

She mentioned that BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was currently in prison in a corruption case and acting BNP chief “fugitive” Tarique Rahman was staying abroad to evade a life term imprisonment for masterminding the deadly 2004 grenade attack on an Awami League rally.

“The people did not know who the opposition leader was... even though prominent lawyer Dr Kamal Hossain heads opposition Oikya Front,” she said.

Moreover, she said, the opposition fielded four to five candidates in every constituency in exchange of money, exposing the people to a state of confusion about the actual BNP candidate while many of them were unknown to ordinary voters.

Hasina, who also leads ruling Awami League, questioned BNP's intention to participate in the polls as only few of opposition candidates were active in the field.

"What will you try to do usually when you participate in the election? You will try to project your candidates. But they [BNP] did nothing. We were really very much surprised that they sat relaxed and there was no activity.”

Hasina said it is likely that the Oikya Front just participated in the election to show that it was not credible or they had something else in their mind as hatching conspiracy was their character.

Fair polls

After the daylong balloting, the Oikya Front, which has BNP as a key partner, had rejected the results, citing gross violations of electoral code of conduct and massive irregularities, including vote rigging.

The ruling Awami League brushed off the allegations, while the Election Commission also maintained that the overall voting was peaceful across the country, despite some isolated incidents.

At least 18 people were killed in polls-related violent incidents before and during Sunday’s vote.

Responding to a query from a BBC journalist about a ballot box stuffed with ballot papers in a Chittagong polling centre, she questioned whether the journalist was sure which ballot boxes were these.

"That was not during this election, it was from the past election. I think it was from the mayoral election when they're taking the ballot boxes for counting. That picture was published. I don't believe that kind of thing happened this time," she said, reports UNB.

Hasina termed the video broadcast in the BBC “fabricated,” saying it had some old pictures. "If there had been any allegation, the Election Commission would have cancelled voting in the centre immediately."

The prime minister also said that incidents of irregularities at one or two out of 40,000 voting centres could not determine the election as unfair.

She said she fought for holding the election in a transparent manner so that people could exercise their voting rights.

The coming days

Responding to a query, Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said the priority of her new government in the next five years will be to complete the programs that have already been taken.

"We have okayed different projects, we have to work on them. Now, the most important thing is to ensure the safety and security of our people."

The prime minister, however, said the Grand Alliance largely won the polls in view of the benefit her government offered the people in the past 10 years, cutting down the poverty rate, improving their financial condition and enhancing the GDP.

“They [people] wanted continuity of the government, development for which they overwhelmingly’ voted for us,” she said.

She also drew attention of the international observers so that they can play a role form their respective levels to accelerate the repatriation process of the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.

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