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PM asks BNP to test popularity through polls

Staff Reporter:

Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on Thursday urged BNP to participate in the 12th national election slated for January 7 to examine whom the people want to see in power.

“Let’s join the election to see how far one can run and to know whom the people want to see in power,” she said.

The prime minister was delivering her introductory speech ahead of Awami League’s Parliamentary Nomination Board meeting at the party’s Dhaka district office in the city’s Tejgaon area to finalise the party’s candidates for Rajshahi, Khulna, and Rangpur divisions.

She also sounded a note of warning against any move to foil the election. “Do not try to thwart the election. If you do so, the consequences will not be good for anyone.”

The prime minister called upon other political parties to participate in the next election.

“They [other parties] who are in dilemma, I urge you all to take part in the election as there is no doubt that the next general election will be free and neutral,” she said, welcoming the parties that announced to join the polls.

Sheikh Hasina said she had given instructions time and again to make sure that the people of the country could vote freely. “We will hold the election to ensure people’s rights to the franchise. We will not interfere to this end. We want the Election Commission to hold free and neutral polls.”

She also said they do not need to steal the votes, as the people have confidence and trust in Awami League.

The international agencies’ surveys have also portrayed the same thing, she added. “So, we will take part in the election with self-confidence.”

She urged the countrymen to cast their votes in favour of their choice with self-confidence. “You can vote as you wish.”

But, being the president of Awami League, Sheikh Hasina said, “I called upon the countrymen to vote for my party’s electoral symbol ‘Boat’ to give us another chance to serve the nation.”

The prime minister said BNP feared joining the election as they have none at the top of the party with their two top leaders convicted of corruption.

She continued the FBI had testified against Tarique and Canadian police gave deposition against Khaleda Zia for their involvement in corruption.

She also delivered a witty remark saying BNP can join the next election to make business by selling nomination papers which they had done in the past.

The prime minister said the Awami League electoral symbol ‘Boat’ brought the country’s independence, made Bangladesh self-sufficient in food production, provided electricity to every house, gave houses to landless and homeless people, provided healthcare to every people’s doorstep, and made Bangladesh digital.

She said the Awami League government has taken various measures to give the countrymen a modern and improved life.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has been successful in its endeavour and the country has got the status of a developing nation.

“If the boat remains in power, the people get peace and prosperity in their lives. This is the reality. So, vote for our candidates to give them a chance to serve you.”

The prime minister also said BNP destroyed the country’s electoral process by holding farcical ‘yes/no vote’ and presidential election by military dictator Ziaur Rahman and her wife followed the path of her husband holding farcical elections, including the February 15 of 1996.

“The people of the country toppled the BNP government between one and a half months after the February 15 farcical election.”

She added Awami League has established the rights to vote and democracy after a long struggle following the footprints of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The prime minister asked the countrymen to build resistance against the hartal, blockade and arson violence. “Whenever you [people] witness any arson violence is being committed, capture the culprits and hand them over to police. We are not saying that you take the law in your hands.”

She continued that if the people start resisting the arson violence, it must come to an end.

The prime minister said she does not bother which big country is supporting them (their arson violence). “To me, my country is great. I am here to work for my country, not to serve any country.”

Sheikh Hasina said some big countries favour those who serve them.

“If any country of their choice invades any country, they do not say it is an invasion,” she said, adding that they do not even see any inhuman act carried out by the countries they favour.

The Awami League’s Parliamentary Nomination Board held its first meeting to finalise their candidates for 300 seats across Bangladesh. The second and third meetings of the board will be held on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Awami League sold 3,362 nomination papers for 300 seats in four days from Saturday to Tuesday at the party’s central office on Bangabandhu Avenue which means on average 11 forms were sold for each seat.

The party earned a total of Tk16.81 crore by selling the nomination papers as each of the forms was sold at Tk50,000.

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