Atmosphere is fine enough for election in Bangladesh, says PM Sheikh Hasina
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said the atmosphere in Bangladesh is ‘sufficiently fine’ to hold general elections and will remain so during the balloting.
Hasina spoke about a host of issues, including the election, at an interview with the Voice of America in the US before returning home and after attending the annual gathering of the UN.
VoA asked her how she would see the pre-election state of the country, the Election Commission, and whether the playing field were level, if she were in the opposition now.
The Awami League government brought ‘transparency’ to the constitution of the EC through a ‘search committee’ instituted by the president while the previous governments had formed the commission as per their wish, Hasina said.
The people have voted in a festive manner in the around 6,500 elections, including those to the local government bodies, held in the around 10 years of her government, the prime minister said.
“If you look into it, you will have to admit that the atmosphere in the country is certainly fine to hold polls and the Election Commission can conduct that election,” she said.
She cited instances of the recent elections to the Rajshahi, Sylhet and Barishal city corporations when asked about the level-playing field.
“You saw that our (mayor) candidate had lost the Sylhet city election by a margin of only 2,500 votes. We didn’t interfere even though the margin was so close. Our candidate also accepted the results,” she said.
“Doesn’t it prove that the atmosphere is fine enough for elections?” Hasina asked.
She said the atmosphere would remain the same during the next general election.
“You must keep in mind the goals of my politics, what I have done in power. Have I built my own fortune? My children’s fortune? I’ve built the fortune of my country’s people,” Hasina remarked.
She also claimed to have rolled back the country from the election situation created during the military government.
Speaking about economic development of the country, she said the private sector cannot to do anything alone if the government does not work properly. “The government must create opportunities for the private sector to work and my government has done that,” she said.
She slammed the critics of Bangladesh’s current economic state. “Can you make someone see if he or she wants to act like a blind person even after having eyes? I don’t think so,” she said.
Hasina said the people do not see the things like the critics do. “They are happy.”
“A girl from a village told me that she uses an electric rice cooker now. That’s the change we are bringing. We are taking steps so that the facilities for the citizens can reach the rural areas,” she said about the progress her government made in the power sector.
VoA also asked her whether she was “upset” at the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders’ threat to drive out 4 million people by identifying them as “illegal migrants from Bangladesh”.
“It may be their kind of politics. I don’t think any illegal Bangladesh took shelter there. Our economy is strong enough. Why would they go there to become illegal migrants?” she asked.
“And if some people call their own citizens illegal, it’s their own issue,” she added.
Hasina also said she spoke to her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi over the issue. “He told me that they have no plan to send them (illegal migrants) back,” she said.
She thanked the people of Bangladesh, especially the residents of Cox’s Bazar, and local and international aid agencies for helping the government tackle the Rohingya refugee crisis.
“The entire world stood by Bangladesh,” she said.
About the government’s plan for the Rohingyas, she said the international organisations were working for the safe return of the refugees to the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
“We want to send some of the refugees back to see how they (Myanmar) behave with them. We are also building houses for them at the Bhasan Char (island). They can live there,” she said.