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PM Hasina vows to hold free, neutral polls

Desk report, Oct 10: Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday reaffirmed her vow to make the country’s upcoming national election free, fair and neutral truly reflecting the will of the people.

‘There are some people who talk about free, fair and neutral election. But the country has witnessed free and neutral elections whenever the Awami League has been in power,’ she said while addressing a rally after inaugurating the Dhaka-Bhanga railway line at Mawa close to the Padma Bridge.

The prime minister slammed those who talk of throwing her Awami League government out of power.

‘And the people who talk about free and fair election cast Awami League out of power every day. In fact they don’t want neutral election,’ she said.

Without naming BNP, Hasina said that this party was established by a person who grabbed power illegally. ‘They came to power by rigging votes.’

However, in a free and fair election held in 2008 BNP-Jamaat 20-party alliance got only 29 out of 300 parliamentary seats as people rejected vote thieves. Since then they have been staying away from election.

‘Apart from boycotting the polls, they resorted to arson terrorism, killing innocent people and destruction of public properties,’ she added.

Hasina, also the president of ruling Awami League, urged the people not to allow vested quarters to play duck and drakes with the fate of the Bengali nation.

She said that people of the country attained independence with blood and they will not allow anyone to destroy it.

‘Bangladesh will march forward with its head held high in the world bearing the ideology of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,’ she declared.

She reiterated her vow to transform Bangladesh into a smart country by 2041. ‘We will build smart population, smart economy, smart government and smart society.’

Without naming Nobel laureate Muhammad Younus, the prime minister said that the World Bank stopped the funding to the Padma Bridge because of this person only for the position of a managing director, which he lost due to age limit.

‘I promised that day, we will build the Padma Bridge with own financing, and we have done it,’ she added.

The prime minister said that the people who don’t believe in country’s independence and the spirit of the War of Liberation, failed the people of Bangladesh.

She said the people of the country started to get the benefit of the development projects which had been implemented by the Awami League government.

‘We have been able to turn the country into a developing nation through implementation of Vision-2021,’ she said.

She said that the communication system had been given highest priority.

The PM briefly highlighted the development activities of Bangladesh Railway in the last 14 years and six months.

She said that during the three consecutive tenures of her government, they had built 873 kilometers of new railway tracks, while completed conversion of 280 km meter gauge railway to dual gauge and 1,391 km tracks were rehabilitated and reconstructed.

During this period, she said, the government constructed 1,037 new railway bridges, while rehabilitated and reconstructed 794 railway bridges as well as constructed 146 new station buildings along with rebuilding of 237 stations.

She added that in the overall development of railways, the government had incorporated 111 locomotives, 658 passenger carriages, 516 freight wagons, and 50 luggage vans to Bangladesh Railways.

She mentioned that a total of 143 new trains had been launched on various routes alongside development and modernisation of signalling systems in 134 stations.

‘We have taken initiative to procure 46 new broad gauge locomotives, 460 new broad gauge passenger carriages, 200 new meter gauge passenger carriages and 1,310 new wagons to increase rail speed, passenger service and quality of goods transportation,’ she stated.

She said that within the next 3-4 years, the passenger and goods transportation capacity of Bangladesh Railway will be raised to an international level and the quality of railway service will be improved.

Bangabandhu’s younger daughter Sheikh Rehana was present at the ceremony.

With railways minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan in the chair, secretary of the ministry Md Humayun Kabir delivered welcome address.

Member of the parliament from the local constituency (Munsiganj-2) Sagufta Yasmin Emily, chief of Army Staff General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed and Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Yao Wen also spoke.

At the outset, a video documentary showcasing Padma Bridge rail link project along with other development works of Bangladesh Railway under the present government was screened.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Railways Ministry ABM Fazle Karim Chowdhury, Bangladesh Railway director general Md Kamrul Ahsan and project director Afzal Hossain were on the dais.

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