BNP started vote rigging culture in country: PM

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DHAKA, Sept 8, 2017 (BSS) – Accusing BNP of introducing vote rigging culture in the country, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asserted that none will be allowed to play ducks and drakes with the voting rights of the people in future.

“The next general election must be held in a free, fair and neutral manner … none will be allowed to play ducks and drakes with the voting rights of the people and we won’t let it happen,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, was addressing a meeting of the Awami League Central Working Committee (ALCWC) at her official Ganabhaban residence here on Thursday night.

While talking about the BNP’s demand for holding a free and fair election in the country, Sheikh Hasina said the BNP should look their face in the mirror as the party had first staged farcical elections in the country.

“I wonder and laugh when the BNP talks and raises various allegations about free and fair elections in the country … I think they should look their face in the mirror,” she said.

The premier said whatever incidents regarding the elections occurred in the country were during the rule of the BNP. “This party had first influenced the polls and snatched the voting rights of the people by staging farcical elections,” she added.

The prime minister said General Zia after grabbing power illegally and violating the constitution staged the so-called “Yes-No” vote. Ziaur Rahman also staged farcical presidential elections where record 100 percent votes were cast and after the polls, he constituted the BNP, she said.

She said the BNP rigged the 1979 parliamentary elections by capturing polling booths like the 15th February polls in 1996. “Almost all BNP candidates were elected MPs unopposed in the 15th February polls and no election was held in 18 seats at that time … so I don’t know how they talk about fair polls?”

The AL president also mentioned rigging in the Magura, Mirpur and Dhaka-10 by-elections during the BNP regime.

About the 15th February voter-less election in 1996, Sheikh Hasina said Khaleda Zia declared herself as the prime minister after rigging the votes. “But the people of the country didn’t accept that polls and that’s why a mass upsurge took place at that time and Khaleda Zia was forced to resign within one and a half months due to stealing of votes,” she said.

In this connection, the premier said if the vote rigging record of the BNP is projected then the people will understand how they (BNP) can raise questions about the polls.

Sheikh Hasina said the BNP became champion in all matters like stealing of money and assets, embezzlement of orphans’ money, vote rigging and money laundering. “Bangladesh became champion in graft for five consecutive years during the BNP rule from 2001,” she said.

The prime minister said the Election Commission will hold the next polls in a completely independent manner. “We will ensure it,” she said.

She added that there is no scope for unnecessarily muddling the water regarding the next general polls and thinking about doing any things in violation of the constitution.

The premier said that her government has strengthened the Election Commission.

“We allocate budget for them and they spend the money as per their requirements and the commission doesn’t need to look at the government in this regard,” she said, adding all affairs of the administration remain in their hands during the polls.

Sheikh Hasina said all elections including by-polls and local body elections were held in a free, fair and neutral manner. “How BNP candidates have won the local government polls like the city corporation election, had that elections not been free and fair.” she posed a question.

The prime minister said her government has ensured the people’s rights to vote and it will continue doing this. “We had waged movements for vote and food and established these rights of the people … it is the Awami League government which raised the slogan — Amar vote ami debo, jake khushi take debo,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said there are some “atels” (so-called intellectuals) in the country who have much expectations of going to power, but they have no capability of getting votes.

“But the people of the country won’t accept the public sufferings, snatching of the democratic and constitutional rights and playing with the fate of the people to fulfill the desire of such elements,” she said.

The prime minister said her government took all measures including arranging transparent ballot boxes and making flawless voter list with photographs for holding the elections in a free, fair and impartial manner. She said the Election Commission staged the 2014 polls independently.

While talking about the influx on Myanmar nationals into Bangladesh, the prime minister said intrusion of the Myanmar refugees started in 1978.

She said the Myanmar citizens enter into Bangladesh when an incident happens in Myanmar. “The most painful matter is that women, children die every day in boat capsizes … it cannot be tolerated,” she said.

The premier said her government is trying its best to help the refugees. “Alongside, we’re putting pressure on the Myanmar government to take back their nationals and we want this,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said they are the Myanmar nationals and they are not supposed to take refuge in other countries. “It’s not honourable for them and Myanmar will have to realize it,” she said.

The prime minister said the Myanmar government should provide security and ensure livelihood for their citizens who have taken shelter in Bangladesh.

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