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Next election is a challenge: PM Sheikh Hasina to AL leaders

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said the upcoming general election is a challenge as various conspiracies are being orchestrated before the polls.

“The next election is a challenge. Different types of conspiracies and plots are being hatched,” she said while exchanging views with the leaders and activists of ruling Awami League and its associate bodies at her official residence Ganabhaban, reports UNB.

Bangladesh is likely to hold a general election in December this year or in January next year.

BNP, the country’s main opposition party, has vowed to boycott the polls unless the government steps down in favour of a non-partisan caretaker administration to make it free and fair.

The government has rejected the demand as unconstitutional.

Hasina, also the AL president, said whenever the life of the country’s people improves to some extent, some black sheeps are here in the country, who speak against Bangladesh and spread lies everywhere.

Some people raise false narratives about Bangladesh before foreigners to get international donations, she said.

She said those who didn’t believe in the independence of Bangladesh, committed genocide and other offenses including plundering, rape and repression during the Liberation War, as well as their generations have relentlessly been carrying out propaganda against Bangladesh.

Citing that vote-rigging is a habit of BNP, the PM said they have a record of vote-rigging and snatching democracy. “But we now hear (the lesion of) democracy from them,” she said.

“Now we’re to hear the lesson on democracy and vote from a party which was formed in the hands of a military dictator. Stealing votes is their habit. So, what do the people of Bangladesh learn from thieves?” she added.

The AL chief asked her party members to work to strengthen their party further. “Our party is strong enough. We’ll have to take steps so that the organisation will stay stronger,” she said.

Focusing on the development of Bangladesh, Hasina said this development has been possible as her party has been in power for 14 years in a row after the 2008 general election and maintained a stable democratic environment in the country.

“We had wanted to change Bangladesh. Today we’ve successfully been able to change,” she said, adding that Bangladesh has graduated into a developing country.

“Our biggest achievement is that the poverty rate declined in the rural area. The poverty rate is high in Dhaka city, but lower in the rural areas. None could think of it in the past,” she said.

PM Hasina said her government kept its pledge by providing electricity to every house. But Bangladesh is to face difficulties as the commodity prices, transport cost, prices of gas, fuel and coal soared up globally following the Ukraine war.

She said the interest rates of foreign loans were increased, which created a pressure on the country’s reserve of foreign currencies. However, there is still a reserve which is enough to procure food for five months, she added.

The PM asked to boost agricultural production by not keeping any piece of land uncultivated in the country, in order to meet the local demand and also export these.

She said the food prices increased throughout the world and also in Bangladesh. Actually the people are suffering from the commodity price-hike, but the goods are available (in the market) and there is no scarcity of any item.

She said Bangladesh has witnessed a good yielding of rice and other crops this time as well. Everything – vegetables, fish and meat– is being produced, though the prices of goods increased, she said.

The premier said her government has recently had a record biggest national budget of Tk 7,61,785 crore. None could give such a big budget in the past. The most important matter is that the government has been able to give such a budget during this tough time.

She said both the number of beneficiaries and the size of allowance under different social safety net programmes were increased in the budget. Besides, the government has arranged a card system so that the low-income people can purchase some essential commodities including rice, pulse and edible at subsidized prices to ease their sufferings, she said.