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PM asks BNP to test popularity through polls

Dhaka, Nov 23: Prime Minister and Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina on Thursday urged BNP to participate in the 12th national election slated for January 7 to examine whom the people want to see in power.

“Let’s join the election to see how far one can run and to know whom the people want to see in power,” she said.

The prime minister was delivering her introductory speech ahead of AL’s Parliamentary Nomination Board meeting at the party’s Dhaka district office in city’s Tejgaon area to finalise the party’s candidates of Rajshahi, Khulna and Rangpur divisions.

She also sounded a note of warning against any move to foil the election.

“Don’t try to thwart the election. If do so, the consequence will not be good for anyone,” she warned.

The premier called upon other political parties to participate in the next election.

“They (remaining other parties) who are in dilemma, I urge you all to take part in the election as there is no doubt that the next general election will be free and neutral,” she said, welcoming the parties which announced to join the polls.

The prime minister said she had given instruction time and again to make sure that the people of the country can vote freely.

“We will hold the election to ensure people’s rights to franchise. We will not interfere to this end. We want the election commission to hold free and neutral election,” she said.

She also said they don’t need to steal the votes, as the people have confidence and trust in the Awami League.

The international agencies surveys have also portrayed the same thing, she added.

“So, we will take part in the election with self-confidence,” she continued.

She urged the countrymen to cast their votes in favour of their choice with self-confidence.

“You can vote as your wish,” she said.

But, being president of the AL, Sheikh Hasina said, “I called upon the countrymen to vote for my party’s electoral symbol Boat to give us another change to serve the nation.”

The prime minister said the BNP feared to join the election as they have none at the top of the party as their two top leaders have been convicted of corruption.

She continued FBI had testified against Tarique and Canadian police gave deposition against Khaleda Zia for their involvement in corruption.

The premier also delivered a witty remark saying BNP can join the next election to make business with selling nomination papers which they did in the past.

The prime minister said the AL electoral symbol “Boat” brought the country’s independence, made Bangladesh self-sufficient in food production, reached electricity to every house, gave houses to every landless and homeless people, provided healthcare to every people’s doorstep and made Bangladesh Digital.

She said that the AL government has taken various measures to give the countrymen a modern and improved life.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has been successful in its endeavor and the country has got the status of a developing nation.

“If the boat remains in power, the people get peace and prosperity in their lives. This is the reality. So, vote for our candidates to give them chance to serve you,” she added.

The premier also said BNP destroyed country’s electoral process by holding farcical yes/no vote and presidential election by military dictator Ziaur Rahman and her wife followed the path of her husband holding farcical elections including the February 15 of 1996.

“The people of the country toppled the BNP government between one and a half month after February 15 farcical election,” she said.

She added the AL has established the rights of vote and democracy after a long struggle following the footprints of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The prime minister asked the countrymen to forge resistance against the hartal, blockade and arson violence.

“Whenever you (people) witness any arson violence is being committed, capture the culprits and hand them over to police. We are not saying that you take law in your hands,” she said.

She continued if the people start resisting the arson violence, it must come to an end.

The prime minister said she doesn’t bother which big country is supporting them (their arson violence).

“To me, my country is great. I am here to work for my country, not to serve any country,” she said.

The premier said there are some big countries who favour those who serve them.

“If any country of their choice invades any country, they don’t say it invasion,” she said, adding that they even don’t see any inhuman act carried out by the countries they favour.

The AL’s parliamentary nomination board held their first meeting to finalise their candidates for 300 seats across Bangladesh.

The second and third meeting of the board will be held on Friday and Saturday next.

The AL had sold 3362 nomination papers for 300 seats in four days from last Saturday to Tuesday at party’s central office at Bangabandhu Avenue which means on an average 11 forms were sold for each seat.

The AL has earned a total of Taka 16.81 crore by selling the nomination papers as each of the form was sold at Taka 50,000.

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