PM Hasina: BNP does not believe in democracy

Sheikh Hasina urged the people to vote for Awami League in order to save Bangladesh

Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said the BNP does not believe in the democratic system and does not want to participate in elections as the party intends to grab state power through murder and conspiracy.

She further said that the BNP carried out arson attacks, killing more than 500 people and injuring over 3,000 instead of participating in the 2014 general election.

Referring to the February 15 election of 1996, the Awami League president said: “The BNP should keep in mind that they have already once been refused by the people for grabbing power without holding a fair election.”

Addressing a massive Awami League rally at the Chittagong Polo Ground, Sheikh Hasina urged the people to “vote for the Boat” in order to save the country.

The Awami League chief criticized the BNP for picking December 10 for its rally, saying that the major opposition party did so to mock the memory of the intellectuals abducted by the Pakistani occupation forces on the day in 1971.

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"They preferred the date as the Pakistan occupation force started killing the country's intellectuals on this day in 1971. December 10 is a favourite date for the BNP. They said they would occupy Dhaka on this day through its divisional rally and overthrow the Awami League government. This is solely because they used to be allies of the Pakistani invasion forces during the war," said the premier.

“The BNP has two virtues: stealing votes and killing people. They know that people will not vote for murderers when elections are held. As a result, they oppose elections. They want the government to be overthrown by someone who will put them in power by Nagardola or palanquins. That is what they expect,” Sheikh Hasina added.

Responding to widespread criticism of the country's democratic situation, the prime minister said democratic practices have prevailed in the country, which is why Bangladesh has seen massive development.

PM Hasina started her speech in the Chittagong dialect and said: “Onera Ken Ason? Beaggun gom ason ni? Toarar lai aarte pet purer. Itellai ay aisshidi.” ( How are you all? Are you all good? My heart cries for you. That is why I have come).

Her party supporters in Chittagong responded in chorus.

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Recalling her previous visits to Chittagong, Sheikh Hasina paid tribute to deceased Chittagong leaders MA Aziz, Hannan Saheb, Zahur Ahmad Chowdhury, Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu, and Mohiuddin Chowdhury, among others.

“Chittagong was our most beloved place. All of the activists here are closely associated with me. Chittagong serves as a repository for all of our movements and struggles. Chittagong's leaders have struggled their entire lives. I am delighted to be here today,” she added.

The prime minister said that when she thinks of the Bangabandhu tunnel, she thinks of former mayor Mohiuddin Chowdhury.

The prime minister said: “He (Mohiuddin Chowdhury) had long desired the construction of a tunnel. He had demanded one as well. The tunnel is now on its way to completion. Unfortunately, he is not present today. He will very surely see from wherever he is.”

Urging those in attendance to vote for Awami League, she said: “We want your blessings and cooperation so that the war criminals and killers can't play ducks and drakes with the fate of Bangladeshi people after coming to power again.” 

Before delivering the speech, the premier inaugurated 29 development projects and laid the foundation stones for four others in the port city.

Although the Awami League president joined the rally around 3pm, people from every corner of the district started arriving at the venue at 7am. Many held festoons and placards, and shouted slogans praising Sheikh Hasina's leadership.

While visiting the Polo Ground and nearby areas, this correspondent found packed crowds waiting from 12 noon.

Awami League central leaders Obaidul Quader, Engineer Mosarof Hossain, Dr Abdur Razzaque, Zahangir Kabir Nanak, Abdur Rahman, Dr. Hasan Mahmud, Mahbubul Alam Hanif, Abu Sayeed Al Mahmud Sopon, Biplab Barua, and Aminul Islam Amin, among others, addressed the massive rally.

Local Awami League leaders and lawmakers of Chittagong, including Saifuddin Chowdhury Javed and Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, also delivered speeches.

Mahatabuddin Chowdhury, acting president of Chittagong city Awami League, presided over the rally. City unit General Secretary AJM Nasir Uddin conducted it.