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PM urges all parties to participate in national polls

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Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called upon all political parties of the country, including BNP, to participate in the upcoming national election, saying that BNP should take part in the upcoming parliamentary polls seeking apology to the nation for committing crimes and arson terrorism.

“The door of election is open to all,” she said while delivering her opening speech at the first meeting of Bangladesh Awami League’s Election Steering Committee at the party’s Dhaka district office at Tejgaon in the city.

Mentioning that election schedule has been announced, Sheikh Hasina said, “Everyone should come and participate in the election. (All should) go to the people and seek vote for them.”

About the BNP-Jamaat, especially killing people and causing loss of lives and properties through arson violence and torching vehicles by them, she said, “They (BNP-Jamaat) should seek apology to the nation for their crimes and then take part in the 12th national parliamentary election.”

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Sheikh Hasina, also the Chairman of Awami League’s Election Steering Committee, thanked the Election Commission for announcing the election schedule in time following the rules, not getting afraid of the arson violence.

She sought cooperation from the people of the country so that the election can be held in a fair manner on time.

This election is for ensuring the voting rights of the people and formation of a government of their choice, she said, adding, “You, cast vote (in the election) with the slogan – ‘I will cast my vote for whoever I want.”

Pointing at the youth society, Sheikh Hasina said her government has made Digital Bangladesh and now everyone is getting its benefits. Now her government is on an endeavour to make the country as Smart Bangladesh in future. “We hope that we would get their (youth folk) cooperation (to do so),” she said.

She questioned why the people will go to vote for those who killed and plan to kill the common people and why the people will keep trust in them.

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The people don’t trust them as they are identified as killers and conspirators, she added.

Noting that election is the right of the people and it is their constitutional right, she said time has come for election and the people will vote.

“If anyone has the courage, they will run in the election,” she said, adding that if they have public support, they will get mandate.

The Awami League president said the party which is elected by the people in the voting will form the government. They (BNP-Jamaat) are carrying out attacks on the people failing to keep trust in them, she added.

Mentioning that Awami League government has been running the country with specific plans and economic policy assuming office since 2009, the Prime Minister said that grassroots people are the centre of her government’s development plan.

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“We’ve been successfully able to bring a radical change in Bangladesh in the last 15 years,” she said, adding that her government has gained public trust and confidence by serving the people since 2009.

She continued: “Since we’ve served the people and ensured their rights, today the people have trust and confidence in the Awami League and us.”

Criticizing the Israel bombing attacks on Palestine hospital, particularly women and children, the Awami League President said her government sent a good amount of medicines and other necessary items for the Palestinian.

Without mentioning the name of BNP and Jamaat, she in this context blasted the parties for not protesting Israel’s repression on the Palestinians.

She went on: “It’s unfortunate that we hear anything from the parties who kill people resorting to arson violence in this country and grab power illegally. They say nothing.”

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In the context of the politics of Bangladesh, the premier noted that now the extreme rightist and extreme leftist parties have joined hands to overthrow her government.

“Now, it is a question who has deviated from its ideology,” she said, adding that now the extreme leftists have no ideology anymore.

The Awami League Chief questioned: “What is our fault that our government would have to be toppled?”

Citing that BNP and its alliance have again started the arson violence, she said, “The people of this Bangladesh will never accept the game with fire.”

“Actually, they (BNP) wanted to spoil the election. But, they won’t be able to thwart this election,” she added.

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Terming BNP a headless party, she said since convicted Khaleda Zia and Tarique Zia can’t run the election, they don’t want to join the polls, rather they want to thwart the election.

Criticising vandalism in the garment sector, Sheikh Hasina said no government other than Awami League did anything to raise salary of garment workers in the country.

She said her government has now increased the minimum monthly wage to Taka 12,500, which is a 56 percent hike, while the workers get a 5 percent increment in their salary annually. “Even then we’ve witnessed 18-19 factories were vandalized,” she added.

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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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