PM urges voters to elect candidates without fear

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The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Thursday said that people would cast their votes without fear to elect candidates of their choice in Sunday’s 10th parliamentary elections.
‘Election would be held under an independent and strong Election Commission, not under any unelected persons,’ Hasina said in a televised address to the nation as part of her election campaign.
She said that an opportunity had now been created for formation of a government by the people of their own choice.
The prime minister said that parliament had adopted a permanent system for holding elections as in practice in other democracies in the world to shut the door permanently for undemocratic forces to usurp power unconstitutionally and play with the rights of the people.
Hasina sought votes from the people for her party’s election symbol ‘boat’ in the January 5 polls saying that her party, if voted to power again, would work for turning Bangladesh into a middle-income economy by 2021 and a developed nation by 2041.
‘Like in the past, I want your all-out support in this election and seek votes for boat which is the symbol of Bangabandhu, Haque-Bhasani-Suhrawardy and the country’s independence,’ she said urging all to forget differences and march together towards peace, development, democracy and prosperity.
The prime minister assured the voters that they would be able to cast their votes in the January 5 general elections without fear – an atmosphere they had enjoyed during the 5,803 local government polls and by-elections in the last five years.
She said that people could now elect their representatives to parliament – a right that had been snatched after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members on August 15 in 1975.
About the boycott of the polls by the opposition BNP, the prime minister said that the government had tried its best to bring BNP in the elections.
‘I repeatedly invited the BNP chairperson to come to an understanding through discussion since 2010. I was also ready to give the opposition the home ministry of the election-time all-party government. Later I phoned her [ Khaleda Zia] inviting her to a dialogue,’ she said adding that whenever she had called the opposition leader for a peaceful solution, the latter either issued an ultimatum or chose the path of violence.
In her address ahead of the 10th parliamentary polls scheduled for January 5, Hasina lamented that despite Awami League’s sincere efforts, the BNP did not join the polls.
‘Instead of joining the polls, BNP unleashed terror and destruction across the country holding the people hostages in the name of hartal and blockade,’ she said.
The prime minister said that the BNP had been trying to snatch the voting rights of the people by creatitng anarchy ahead of the polls.
She said that as an elected government they had taken an oath to consolidate democracy. ‘So the January 5 elections will be held in line with the constitution,’ Hasina said.
About her party’s election pledges, Hasina said that this time she had given priority to good governance, democratisation and decentralisation of power.
If voted to power, the aim of her government would be to put democratic institutions of the country on a stronger base to ensure good governance, she said.
Hasina further said that her government’s prime goal would be to turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 through achieving targets like increasing per capita income to $1500 from 1044, growth rate to 10 per cent from existing 6.2 per cent and the poverty rate to 13 per cent from the present 26 per cent.

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