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PM Hasina: Never received such a special gift before

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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her joy on Saturday as she received gold bangles from tea workers.

She said: “You brought this gift when you met me at Ganabhaban. I still have this in my hand. I did not forget. To me it is the most valuable tresure. The tea workers gave me this gift by saving pennies. I have never received such a great honor, such a great gift.”

The prime minister said she was very happy when the tea workers handed her this gift in their previous meeting.

She made the remark while addressing tea workers in different areas of the country through video conference from her official residence Ganabhaban.

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Representatives of tea workers from Moulvibazar, Habiganj, Sylhet and Chittagong joined the conference.

The prime minister said that by giving her such an expensive gift with the little money they make shows how much they respect her.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that tea workers always cast their vote for Awami League.

“I have a separate responsibility to you (tea workers) as the Father of the Nation had given you the citizenship. I am always trying to perform the responsibilities accordingly,” Sheikh Hasina said.

“Since the Awami League assumed office, we have always been trying to resolve all the problems of the tea workers and to spread the tea industry (to other parts of the country),” she said, adding that they have started tea cultivation afresh in Panchagar.

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In this connection, the prime minister said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had taken various measures for the flourishing of the industry and to ensure a better life for the tea workers when he (Bangabandhu) was entrusted with the responsibilities of the chairman of the then tea board.

She said Bangabandhu had established headquarters of the tea board in Motijheel alongside taking measures to flourish the tea industry and gave the tea workers citizenship and voting rights as he had sympathy towards them.

Following the footsteps of the Father of the Nation, the Premier said she has always attached priorities to the well-being of the tea workers.

Referring to recent demonstrations of the tea workers, she said they had given a hike in their daily wages and other benefits so that they could live properly after holding talks with the tea garden owners.

“We think we can realize their (tea workers’) demands,” she said.

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Earlier on Saturday last, the prime minister held a meeting with owners of tea gardens where the minimum daily wage for a tea worker was fixed at  Tk 170.

Tea workers want ambulance, doctor

The tea workers have asked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to provide them with basic medical facilities like ambulances and doctors as well as education and job facilities’ for future generations.

Tea worker Rita thanked the prime minister for increasing the wages from Tk120 to Tk170. 

She referred prime minister as mother and said: “We will always think of you. We know Sheikh Mujibur Rahman brought us independence. We still live independently. We hope you will always be at our side like your father.”

Later, another woman tea worker told the prime minister: “You are giving us old age allowance, widow allowance, and many more benefits. When the election day comes, I go from house to house and ask them to vote for Awami League.”

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She said the tea workers were forced to wage a movement for their livelihood and asked for the prime minister’s forgiveness if she was hurt by the movement.

In response, the prime minister said: “What you have done is because of your live hood. For this, I have spoken to the owners before and with you later.” 

The prime minister assured the tea workers saying that she would be always with them. 

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Politics

Vast majority of Bangladeshis want good relations with neighbours: FM tells South Asia Correspondents

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Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud has said the vast majority of the people of Bangladesh now understand that it should have good relations with neighbours – for its own prosperity as well as that of the region.

He said his party (Bangladesh Awami League) is painted as a ‘pro-Indian’ party but AL is a pro-Bangladeshi party.

“There are anti-Indian elements. We specifically see this issue during elections. But the anti-Indian sentiment is gradually diminishing in Bangladesh,” he told the members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia during an interaction in New Delhi on February 9.

The Foreign Minister said the tablet or capsule of blaming Awami League as a pro-India party does not work anymore like the past.

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“Today, the vast majority of the people understand that for the prosperity of Bangladesh and the region, neighbours should have good relations,” he said while responding to a question.

Asked about balancing relations, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh-India relationship is not comparable to any other relations.

“Bangladesh’s relations with India are bonded by blood and shared sacrifice during the War of Liberation in 1971,” Hasan said.

He said although China is not Bangladesh’s immediate neighbor but it is a neighbor and a development partner of Bangladesh.

The Foreign Minister said they face a lot of challenges due to the wave of fake news. He said this is a problem even in Europe and shared how fake news was spread during Covid-19.

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He mentioned that this is an area where all need to work together. “We can work together to fight against fake news.”

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Last national election was open for all AL members for sake of democracy: PM Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (9 Februay) said if she did not allow her party members to take part in last month’s election as independent candidates the democracy of the country would have been snatched away.

“If the election was not open for all (AL members), then not only the election would have been stained, the democracy of the country would have been hijacked too,” she said.

The prime minister was delivering her introductory speech at the extended meeting of Awami League at her official residence Ganabhaban.

This election was important to maintain the country’s status as a developing country, she said.

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“We should not forget the election manifesto that we announced before the election to retain this achievement. Every year during the budget formulation we follow the election manifesto,” she said.

Hasina, also the chief of ruling Awami League, said that her party has also opened the upcoming upazila elections for all her party members to make it participatory.

“It will also be scrutinised how much work has been done for the common people in the last 15 years while in power, and who could not deliver. Through it we will see who is accepted by the people,” she said.

She issued warning against any sort of confrontation in the upcoming local government elections.

“We do not want any kind of confrontation. Stern actions will be taken against the individuals responsible for it no matter who they are,” she said.

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Claiming that the 12th parliamentary election was free, fair and impartial, Hasina said that those who want to dispute the election, they must give clear evidence.

She said that elections have been held in many developed countries of the world, but these are yet to be accepted by their opponents.

“Even the post-election violence has resulted in murders. But the election in Bangladesh was very fair. Public administration, the armed forces, law and order enforcement and all those involved in the election have performed their duties impartially,” she claimed

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Political crisis nearing climax: Rizvi

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The BNP today said the country’s long-standing political crisis is now nearing its climax as people are taking to the streets risking their lives to resist a one-sided election.

“The chief election commissioner surrendered to Sheikh Hasina instead of protecting the interests of the people and taking proper steps to ensure a free, fair, and participatory election,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the party, said in a virtual press conference.

The BNP leader alleged that the EC announced the schedule for the next election ignoring the continuous movement for free and fair elections.

Rizvi also alleged that the commission announced the election schedule on the instruction of the government, ignoring the appeals of the country’s civil society, the international community, and foreign diplomats.

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“When the CEC announced the schedule, he should have also mentioned the time of voting, whether it will be at night, or during the daytime, or early morning.”

The BNP leader said the government has established a regime where those who demand free and fair elections are being attacked.

He said their ongoing movement to restore the power and rights of the people will be a warning for all the autocrats.

Rizvi said the BNP leaders and activists are being arrested indiscriminately. “If they [law enforcers] can’t detain them, they are arresting their fathers, fathers-in-law, younger brothers, and even women in the house.”

He said law enforcers arrested more than 12,900 leaders and activists in 289 cases across the country since October 28.

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