January 9, 2024
DHAKA – Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh set an example of a free, fair and impartial polls.
“You have come and witnessed how the people vote in our country. We’ve set a precedent for free, fair and neutral election,” she said while exchanging views with local and foreign journalists and observers.
People voted for the AL and elected it, she said, adding that many independents and some contenders from other parties also got elected as people voted spontaneously.
“We took all sorts of measures to conduct the election in a fair manner, which you have witnessed,” said Hasina.
“It’s not my victory. I think it is a victory of the people,” she said amid applause from the audience.
She said she had struggled to establish people’s voting rights for a long time.
Referring to the BNP, Hasina said it did not participate in the election because it is afraid of the competition.
The parties that were formed by “military dictators cannot function on their own. They don’t have public support. So, they fear direct election”.
Bangabandhu’s youngest daughter Sheikh Rehana, Bangabandhu’s grandchildren Saima Wazed and Radwan Mujib Siddiq Bobby were present during the event at the Gono Bhaban.
When an Indian journalist asked if she would consider pardoning Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus, Hasina said Yunus violated the labour law and deprived his employees who filed a case at the labour court. “I have nothing to do with that.”
As a BBC journalist asked if she believed Bangladesh could be considered a vibrant democracy with the absence of an opposition party, the AL chief said every party has the right to make decisions.
The journalist also mentioned that 60 percent of the constituents had not cast their votes.
If a party does not participate in the election, it does not mean there is no democracy, she said. “Consider whether the people participated or not.
“The party didn’t participate in the election and tried to prevent people from casting their votes. But the people had not listened to them.”
The PM said she does not know if there was any other definition of democracy, adding that people’s participation is the main thing.
Denouncing BNP’s violent activities, the prime minister asked the BBC reporter about her definition of a democratic party. “They are a terrorist party.”
Bangladesh has wonderful relations with its neighbours and India is a great friend, she said.
Replying to an election observer from the US, she said, “Our relationship is wonderful with every country, even the United States of America. So, from our part there is no problem. We have a good relationship. Now it depends on you and your government.”
In reply to another question, she said she does not want to be compared with the great women leaders like Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, and Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
“They were great ladies. I’m a simple person.”
“Economic progress and ensuring a better life for the people is my main aim,” she said, replying to a question from a foreign journalist.