Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said she does not want any “conflict” ahead of the December 30 general elections and appealed to party men to restrain from obstructing Opposition Oikya Front, including the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), from campaigning.
Two weeks into the campaign, Hasina has addressed hundreds of thousands of people in rallies across the country as she seeks a record fourth term.
Speaking to a group of visiting Indian journalists at her private residence in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi, Hasina said at least five workers of the ruling Awami League have been killed by the BNP during election clashes.
“The workers opposition alliance—Jatiya Oikya Front, which includes the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), have been attacking our workers and party election offices in many parts of the country and till now five Awami League workers have been killed.
People may react adversely to these kinds of violent activities and I don’t want that such a situation arises. So, I have appealed to the people and party workers to stay calm as we can see that the Awami League will win the December 30 election,” she said.
Speaking on the India-Bangladesh ties, Hasina said, “Neighbours may have problems but it can be solved by dialogues,” adding that the country “cannot forget India’s help and support during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971.”
“Bangladesh has decided to bring hydro-electric power from Nepal and Bhutan, and India has given us access use its territory. Similarly, we too have allowed India to use Bangladesh territory to transmit power from Meghalaya to the rest of the country,” she said.
“Our policy is clear…friendship with all and enmity with none,” Hasina said.
India and Bangladesh have inked several deals, including the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM) which will widen Bangladesh market. The BCIM corridor will link Kolkata with Kunming in southwestern China's Yunnan province, she said.
Hasina also expressed confidence that the Awami League will be voted back to power and said she is not worried about the outcome.
“I am not desperate to hang on to power. So, I am not tensed about winning or losing the election. I will accept whatever the result will be,” she said.
Reacting to the Opposition’s allegation that it is not being allowed to campaign for the polls, the Prime Minister said: “I have toured throughout the length and breadth of the country…The opposition alliance has candidates, but no posters. They are not campaigning but only lodging complaints.”
She said the Opposition only wanted to disrupt the polls and unleash violence.
“They (are) adept in causing mayhem…We are, however, apprehensive that they may try to carry out violence to disrupt the elections, but the government is prepared to tackle that,” she told journalists during the interaction.
She also took a dig at the Opposition saying the BNP leaders were charged with committing war crimes in 1971. “They are the party which sided with Pakistan and were defeated…They already started the terror activities so it’s a matter of concern,” she said.
When asked about reports that Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI is trying to influence polls through terror funding, Hasina blamed the BNP.
“Why only blame ISI? If at all we have to blame, we should blame the BNP. The BNP is a party of this country. Why should they allow the ISI or take money from the ISI to destroy the democratic system in our country? It means that they (BNP) has no patriotism. They don’t have love for the people or the country,” she said.