Opposition weaknesses caused their polls debacle: PM

DHAKA, Dec 31, 2018 : Prime Minister and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina today said the opposition was in a state of wilderness that caused their debacle in the Sunday’s elections while she would discharge her responsibility as the “premier of all” during her upcoming five-year tenure.

“It was a credible and transparent election . . . but (opposition) BNP’s debacle in the polls was caused by their own faults and weakness,”

she said in an interaction with foreign journalists at her official
Ganobhaban residence which was joined as well by overseas poll observers.

Sheikh Hasina indentified BNP’s leadership vacuum as their prime weakness as the party chairperson Khaleda Zia was serving a prison term on graft charges while acting BNP chief “fugitive” Tarique Rahman was staying abroad to evade a life term imprisonment for masterminding the deadly 2004 grenade attack.

“The people did not know who the opposition leader was . . . though
prominent lawyer Dr Kamal Hossain heads the opposition Jatiya Oikya Front (JOF)” with BNP being its key partner, Sheikh Hasina said.

Moreover, she said, the opposition fielded four to five candidates in every constituency in exchange of money, exposing the people to a state of confusion about the actual BNP candidate while many of them were unknown to ordinary voters.

The premier, however, said her Awami League-led Grand Alliance largely won the polls in view of the benefit her government could offer them for the past 10 years, cutting down the poverty rate, improving their financial condition and enhancing the GDP.

“They (people) wanted continuity of the government, development for which they overwhelmingly’ voted for us,” Sheikh Hasina said.

She added: “I will be the premier of all.”

About the priority of her next government, Sheikh Hasina said she would complete all the development projects, which was undertaken earlier, in the next five years.

“One of the most important tasks of the government will be ensuring safety and security of country’s people,” she said.

“Our first priority will be the continuation of the economic activities so that the people can get better life,” she added.

Holding BNP and its allies responsible for election-time violence, the prime minister said many people mostly members of the ruling Awami League were killed by the BNP-Jamaat men.

“BNP-Jamaat men have attacked our people, they tried to snatch the ballot papers and ballot boxes…they also tried to thwart the election,” she said, adding that the law enforcing agencies and the people were very much alert about their ill motive.

Sheikh Hasina said the BNP-led Jatiya Oikya Front participated in the election just to show the world that election was not impartial or with an intension to occur something dreadful as a part of their conspiracy.

The prime minister said the victory of her party in the election is a good opportunity to continue the development works of the country which is very much important for economic progress and prosperity.

“People are getting the outcomes of the development that we have done in the last 10 years. They are gradually getting better life day by day and I am very much hopeful that it will improve more in the next tenure.”

Describing another reason for BNP’s defeat in the election, the prime minister recalled past records of corruption and destructive political activities carried out by BNP and Jamaat.

“Now people treat these parties as terrorist organisations. And everybody knows about the corruption done by them. People know that they could not make any progress in the country,” the prime minister said.

Mentioning previous election scenario of Bangladesh, the prime minister said, “We had very bad experiences. We have established a system so that our people can cast their vote freely and fearlessly.

Voters particularly women and first-time-voters have exercised their
franchise very enthusiastically, Sheikh Hasina said, adding that she always believe that democracy must be upheld at any situation.

“Voting rights belongs to people….it’s their choice to whom they vote. So, all the development projects belong to every citizen of the country. It’s our responsibility and I feel it,” she added.

Responding to the query of a BBC reporter about footage of ballot box stuffed with ballots, the Prime Minister said the footage was completely fabricated.

The ballot box was not of December 30 election, but mayoral election which was carrying for ballot counting, she said, adding the Election Commission immediately postponed the election whenever, an allegation came up into their notice.

“We never encourage any sort of irregularity. Some incidents might happen, but immediately we took actions,” she said.

Vice Chairman of Awami League’s election conduction committee HT Imam also spoke on the occasion.

Biplob Barua, among others, senior leaders of the party and member secretary of the election conducting committee were present.