Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said the main opposition BNP “created mayhem” after winning the 2001 and 2010 elections and must be kept out of power if her ruling Awami League is to maintain the present course of development for the country.
“Awami League has tried to bring development in all sectors and if the pace of development continues, then Bangladesh will be a developed country by 2041,” Hasina, also the ruling party president, said on Wednesday.
She was addressing an Awami League rally held at the Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka on Wednesday in celebration of the historic March 7, 1971 speech given by her father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and its recent inclusion in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
“My father delivered it from his heart, unveiling the deprivation and torture the Bangalis were facing at that time,” she said.
“He had fought throughout his life against all kinds of crimes, depression and for the people of Bangladesh, to try to free them from the Pakistani occupation forces”.
Hasina said her father had “prepared the nation step-by-step” for independence and this was reflected in the speech, which was continuing to inspire people even after 47 years.
The prime minister alleged that BNP and the “anti-liberation forces” had tried to erase Bangabandhu and the speech from Bangladesh’s history, but failed. “And now UNESCO has recognized his speech as the world’s documentary heritage,” she said.[caption id="attachment_251169" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Thousands of leaders and activists of ruling Awami League and its affiliated organizations, carrying banners, placards, festoons and other displays, throng the Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka during a party rally on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | Focus Bangla[/caption]
Sounding a warning to the electorate ahead of the parliamentary elections to be held in December, Hasina said the BNP-led coalitions created nationwide anarchy after its wins in the 2001 and 2014 polls.
“BNP and Jamaat had created mayhem after winning the 2001 election and their leaders and activists killed hundreds of people, looted valuables and raped children and women like Pakistani occupied forces,” she said.
“They not only tortured Awami League supporters but also attacked the Hindus, Buddhists and Christians. So the young generation and conscious people should be aware of what they did so that they cannot create anymore chaos in the country in future.”
The prime minister went on to reference the February 8 conviction of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and five others in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, urging the electorate to remain united “so that war criminals, murderers, looters and embezzlers of orphans’ money could never return to power”.
“Awami League works for the country, the people and their development,” Hasina said. “Bangladesh is now on the verge of becoming a developing country, but the country did not see such development under the governments run by (the former military dictator) Ershad or Khaleda Zia.”
Addressing the rally, the ruling party chief said claims that BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman had siphoned off money abroad had been proved in the courts of the US and Singapore.
“Ziaur Rahman had left nothing but a broken suitcase for Khaleda Zia and her sons but they managed to get rich by siphoning off money abroad. The courts in the US and Singapore had confiscated their illegal money and we have recovered that,” she said.
Taking another dig at her arch-political rival, Khaleda, Sheikh Hasina claimed: “As anti-liberation forces, BNP never worked for Bangladesh’s development.”
Calling on the people to vote for Awami League in the next national election to maintain the course of development, she said: “I urge you all to make sure that those who stole the money meant for orphans do not come to power.
“If they come to power, they will force the country towards the path of destruction.”
Sheikh Hasina reached Suhrawardy Udyan at 2:55pm on Wednesday to find it packed with thousands of leaders and activists of the ruling party and its affiliated organizations, who were carrying banners, placards, festoons and other displays.[caption id="attachment_251172" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Prime Minister and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina, with the party's General Secretary Obaidul Quader beside her, waves at the party supporters from the stage during a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | Focus Bangla[/caption] Supporters of party had come to Dhaka from all adjacent and various districts to attend the rally. However, due to the rally, people of Dhaka city experienced severe gridlocks on the street after police closed the roads and diverted traffic at various city points including Shahbagh and Kataban intersections, Dhaka University’s TSC, Banglamotor, Farmgate, and High Court to ensure an easy passage for Awami League supporters. In his speech kicking off the rally, the ruling party’s General Secretary Obaidul Quader urged the citizens to be “patient” and to “cooperate to observe the historic day”. He admitted that people of the city were indeed suffering in traffic jams. "We have held our other rallies on Fridays and Saturdays to avoid such situation. But this day is a treasure of the Bangali nation and the date cannot be changed. “I urge you all to be a bit more patient and push through the suffering to cooperate with us to observe the day," Obaidul said. Among others, senior Awami League leaders SajedaChowdhury, Matia Chowdhury, Tofail Ahmed, Amir Hossain Amu, Mohammed Nasim, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, engineer Mosharraf Hossain, Sahara Khatun Faruk Khan, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Mirza Azam, and Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokan also spoke at the rally.