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None raised caretaker govt issue during US, UK visits: PM

None raised caretaker govt issue during US, UK visits: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday (Oct 6) said no one raised the issue of caretaker government (CG) during her recent visits to the US and the UK. "No one talked about caretaker government. There was no talk on the CG system with anyone. No one asked me about it...," she said in a press conference at the Ganabhaban, replying to a query regarding her meeting with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and others.

The press conference was organized to brief the media about the PM's visit to the United States and the United Kingdom. She attended the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session and other events during the visit.

Referring to the bitter experiences during the 2007-08 CG, she said, "Can anyone want it?" Sheikh Hasina, also the President of ruling Bangladesh Awami League, said: "This system (CG) has been destroyed by BNP." "So, no such talks about the CG took place (with anybody)," she added.

The Bangladesh premier had a meeting with Jake Sullivan last week in Washington. Last month, she had a fruitful pull-aside meeting with President Joe Biden and took selfie on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi.

The PM said that she should not be given lessons about holding free, fair and credible elections as it is her party, Bangladesh Awami League, which established the voting rights of the people in this country.

"It doesn't need to teach me about free, fair and neutral elections. Because, we've established the voting rights of the people of Bangladesh through struggles and movements under the leadership of Awami League," she said.

Mentioning that people have voted for her party as free and fair elections were held, she said "This economic development (of Bangladesh) has happened as we've been in power in a row (for three consecutive terms)."

Sheikh Hasina raised the question why so many questions are coming now regarding the election. "Has it become a matter of headache for all that a country has progressed so rapidly"?

The premier mentioned that she has told the international community that once there was a tradition in Bangladesh that the government of the army, by the army and for the (army) generals. "It is we who established the government of the people, by the people and for the people," she said.

Smelling a rat in the voices regarding free, fair and credible elections, she said, "I doubt why are all talking much about free, fair and impartial elections when the country is marching towards progress. I doubt it. Actually, it is an attempt to thwart the election," she added.

The Awami League chief said those who know that they won't get votes in the election are now seeking favour everywhere (foreigners).

She said that "I've told them (foreigners) clearly. We've fought for votes. With blood, at the risk of my own life, I have attained the right to vote for the people of this country."

"Today, I don't need to be taught about the right to vote," she added.

 Sheikh Hasina, also daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said that "We agitated during Ayub Khan's regime, we are on the streets. It's not new. I have been struggling on the streets since my school days. I did it against Ayub Khan, I did it against Yahya Khan. Zia, Ershad, Khaleda Zia, who were vote thieves."

"Awami League does not need to rig votes. People vote for Awami League spontaneously. We've gained trust through work," she said.

Regarding the movement of BNP, the PM said, "We're not stopping their movement. They are agitating and gathering people."

"It's good. They (BNP) had made so much money by stealing, and all the money they had laundered is now being used," she said, adding, "At least some money is going to common people. As much as they stage movement, some money will go to the common people; I consider it in this way."

The head of government, however, warned that "If they (BNP) try to do any harm to the people, they will not be given any concession." 

She said that "People are with us, we don't have to do anything... the people will resist them."

In this connection, she referred to the arson terrorism of the BNP-Jamaat alliance in 2013 when the common people stood against them. "This time, it will be the same."

Requesting journalists to find out their (BNP) source of money, she said it is necessary to know from where they get money and how they spend so much money.

She said the advantage of Awami League is that leaders and workers of the party do politics with their own money. 

On Wednesday, the premier returned home from London after wrapping up her 16-day official visit to the US and the UK.

Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, AL Presidium Members, Deputy Leader of the House Begum Matia Chowdhury, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and Kazi Zafarullah and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam were present on the dais.

Prime Minister's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim moderated the function.

Replying to another query, Sheikh Hasina said that it is definitely essential that there should be an opposition party in the country, but those who have no single seat in Parliament can't be counted as the opposition.

How those to be treated as the opposition who have no courage to contest elections or can't come in parliament through polls? she posed a question.

Mentioning that Bangladesh follows the Westminster-type of democracy, Sheikh Hasina said those who have seats in the opposition bench of Parliament are considered as the opposition in democratic system.

She added: "if anyone continues to bark on the streets, it is not counted as the opposition in the foreign countries".

In reply to another query, the premier said her party will pick the candidates for the next parliamentary elections taking consideration who are more acceptable to the people and who gained trust and confidence of the people by their works.

"We will consider those who have credibility among the people. I conduct a survey after every six months," she said, adding that if anyone loses his or her position, the person is asked to work more and win the hearts of the people through work.

As her attention was drawn regarding BNP's remark that the PM returned home with empty hands from her recent foreign visit, she said that BNP leaders are resorting to falsehood through loudspeakers. "It's their habit to tell lies. They try to undermine everything," she added.

The premier asked the countrymen not to pay heed to the falsehood spread by BNP leaders.

She said that they (BNP leaders) continue to announce a specific date to oust the government. "Let them do it. We don't have any problem. I don't mind it... if the movement continues, it is good for her party," she said.

The Awami League president said if a movement continues, Awami League leaders become revitalized because of the movement.