Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday made it clear that the next general election in Bangladesh will be held under her Awami League government and it will be free and fair.
"So under our government, definitely election will be free and fair," she told a session titled "In conversation with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina" of the Qatar Economic Forum at the Raffles Hotel in Doha.
Haslinda Amin, Bloomberg editor-at-large of Qatar Economic Forum anchored the session.
The prime minister's assertion came as the opposition BNP and its allies have launched a renewed campaign of street protests asking her government to step down to pave the way for holding the next election under a neutral caretaker administration.
Bangladesh is due to go to polls by December this year or in the first week of next year.
Responding to a question, she said that after the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, military dictators jeopardised all election processes.
"The election was just a game (then)," she said.
She recalled that when the Awami League elected her as its president back in 1981 in her absence only then she could return to the country.
"Since then we started to struggle for restoring democracy and people's right to vote. It was our struggle to ensure free and fair election. And we did it during our time in every election," she said.
Regarding the opposition BNP's demand, Hasina, also the president of ruling Awami League, said that in 2008 election no body raised any question about it.
"What was the result then? The party (BNP) which is raising the question now got only 29 out of 300 seats in the Parliament," she said.
Sounding firm the prime minister said that she is here to ensure people's voting right, Because people should decide who will run the country.
"It is people's power, I want to ensure people's power. I am here not to grab power. Rather I want to empower our people that they should have their right to choose their government," she said.
Replying to a question, Hasina mentioned that now some parties said they will not participate.
She then said, "How will they participate? Because during their time the country suffered a lot. Our people suffered. At their time terrorist activities increased. Everywhere there was corruption, nepotism and exploitation.
“They never bothered about the people. It was very difficult for our people to get one meal per day. That was the situation.”
PM to visit India this September
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will visit India this September, said Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader.
He made the disclosure while addressing a programme in the capital’s Sarak Bhaban on Wednesday. At the ceremony, the minister virtually inaugurated the groundbreaking work of the Baraiyarhat-Heyako-Ramgarh Road Widening Project.
Indian Ambassador to Bangladesh Pranay Kumar Verma attended the ceremony.
Quader said, “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will visit India next September to attend the G-20 summit. We are set to hold a party-to-party discussion during the event. India’s BJP invited us for this purpose.”