‘With no courage to return, how can he lead?’
How can BNP leader Tarique Rahman lead the party when he does not even dare to return home, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said.
"If a political leader has no courage to return home, how can he lead?" she said at a discussion yesterday, marking the 73rd founding anniversary of the Awami League, reports UNB.
Hasina, also the AL president, presided over the programme, held at the party central office on Bangabandhu Avenue. She joined the event via videoconference from the Gono Bhaban.
The PM said it was incorrect to say that Tarique was not allowed to return home. "Nobody ousted him. He willingly went abroad and then didn't return."
Tarique went abroad during the tenure of the then caretaker government (in September 2008) promising that he won't be involved in politics anymore, she said.
In this context, Hasina said she was prevented from returning home during the then caretaker government, but she came back (on May 7, 2007) defying obstructions and took her return as a challenge.
Noting that she had been sued in a murder case and an arrest warrant had been issued against her, the premier said she announced that she would return home, appear before the court and face the case.
How can an election be participatory when AL's rival the BNP is facing a crisis of proper leadership, she said.
Referring to the 2018 national election, Hasina said BNP leaders changed their candidate in a constituency several times due to nomination trade.
She said Enam Ahmed Chowdhury and Morshed Khan told her that Tarique sought money for party tickets, but they refused.
The PM questioned how the BNP could attract voters and how the people could vote for the party when it was "leaderless".
Criticising BNP acting chairman Tarique, the premier said he has proved that his parents Ziaur Rahman and Khaleda Zia were involved in the August 1975 carnage conspiracy by supporting the slogan "pachattorer hatiar" (arms of 75).
Lambasting BNP founder Zia for rewarding the killers of August 15 carnage with lucrative jobs in Bangladesh missions abroad, Hasina said he got killed and no one even found his body.
"Yes, Ershad had brought a box [to Dhaka]. But what was in that box? Later, Ershad himself said Zia's body was not in that box. But the box was buried in Sangsad Bhaban area [Chandrima Udyan]," she said, adding that even Khaleda and her son can't say that they had seen Zia's body.
She said BNP leaders now place floral wreaths there, but Khaleda's spouse is not there. "The truth will be revealed one day."
Taking a swipe at the BNP leaders for criticising the government over the Padma Bridge issue, the PM said the World Bank stopped its funding for Siddirganj power plant and Dhaka-Mymensingh road during the tenure of Khaleda's government on corruption allegations.
She expressed wonder how BNP could raise questions about the Padma Bridge issue when its leaders are corrupt from top to bottom. "BNP in fact is a factory of lies," the PM alleged.
About the criticism of BNP leaders over the flood issue, Hasina said they failed to stand by the flood victims and could not provide even a fistful of food, but they are shedding crocodile tears staying in Dhaka.
The AL chief said her party leaders have been working hard to extend support to the flood victims even in very risky places.
The premier blasted the BNP leaders for demanding cancellation of the grand opening of the Padma Bridge citing floods.
Hasina said the AL has been working to change the fate of the people since its founding in 1949.
"Whatever the people of this country attained, all these came through the Awami League. Whenever the Awami League came to power, the fate of the people changed."
AL presidium members Matia Chowdhury, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Abdur Rahman, AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, and Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, among others, spoke on the occasion.
Earlier in the day, the PM paid homage to Bangabandhu on the occasion of the party's founding anniversary, reports BSS.
She placed a wreath at the portrait of the Father of the Nation at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum on the capital's Dhanmondi-32.
PM ADDRESSES JS
Speaking at the Jatiya Sangsad yesterday, the PM said no one would be able to restrict Bangladesh's advancement if it was run as per the plans drawn up by the AL.
Hasina was addressing the House during an unscheduled discussion on the ruling party's founding anniversary, reports our staff correspondent.
The leader of the House said the AL government has formulated the plans to turn Bangladesh into a developed country in future.
"The Awami League was born for a special reason," she said.
The AL president said the then Pakistani rulers put restrictions on language and oppressed Bangladeshis socioeconomically.
"Protesting this, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman organised the Language Movement, and founded Chhatra League. He had been with the Awami League from the very beginning."
She said the AL is the people's organisation and it always waged struggles for the country's oppressed and neglected people. "Many Awami League leaders and activists laid down their lives for this cause."
The premier said Padma Bridge has been built with the country's own resources.
"Like this, Bangladesh will be moving forward. It will never be dependent on others and never beg. With its own dignity, Bangladesh will hold its head high in the world arena," she said.
AL MPs Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed also spoke on the same issue.