Coming down hard on those who bemoan the “lack of democracy” in the country, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh had been witnessing massive development as there was continuation of democratic process.
“There's been development because there's democracy in the country. As we're running the country in a democratic process, the country has been witnessing development,” she said, posing a question why the country could not attain such a level of development in 21 years (when the Awami League was not in power) that it saw over the last eight years.
The Leader of the House said this while taking part in a general discussion on the thanksgiving motion on the president's speech in parliament.
“We believe in democracy and involve all people in each of our activities,” she said, adding that her party could not assume office in 2001 as it did not give undertaking for selling gas to a neighbouring country. “But the BNP-Jamaat clique had done that.”
Hasina also questioned how they could criticise the government if there was no freedom of speech and a democratic environment in the country. “What do they want -- development or democracy?”
The premier said her government made open television channels and radio stations in the private sector and those who raise questions about democracy in the country were getting scopes for making criticism.
Even many NGOs working for poverty alleviation by providing microcredit failed to slash poverty rate, she said.
The PM said some banks disbursed microcredit, but how many people could come out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
She added that Brac and Grameen Bank claim that they cut poverty rate by one percent every year. “Brac started work in 1972 and Grameen Bank in 1985. The poverty rate was supposed to go down to zero percent if their claims were true, but why poverty still exists in the country.”
“Did they eliminate poverty or nurture?” she questioned.
Hasina reiterated her government's firm stance against terrorism and militancy and said that there wouldn't be any room for these social vices in the country.
She said law enforcement agencies remain alert to eliminate terrorism and militancy and these evils would be stamped out at any cost.