Welcoming the formation of Jatiya Oikyafront, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said Awami League was not worried about it at all.
“We want them [new political alliance leaders] to do a good job. But Awami League is not worried about it at all. This is good to see that they got united,” she said at a press conference at the Gono Bhaban.
The programme was organised to brief journalists about the outcome of her recent official visit to Saudi Arabia.
“I welcome that political parties have got united. It is needed. What's the problem if all can get united and achieve a political success?” she said.
Responding to a question about any possible uncertainty over the upcoming election, the PM said the Election Commission was independent and it was making preparations to hold the national election independently.
Hasina, also the AL chief, questioned about the motive of a vested interest group trying to create uncertainty over the election. “Their motive is to hamper the country's democratic process for their personal gains.”
She said her party wanted to see a fair election in Bangladesh. “The election must be held, Inshallah.”
About the polls-time cabinet, the PM said she preferred not to downsize the cabinet ahead of the national election for the sake of completing the ongoing crucial development projects.
She, however, said a smaller cabinet might be formed if the opposition parties demanded so. “I don't know whether it [trimming of cabinet] is needed.”
Hasina mentioned that she discussed the issue with President Abdul Hamid and opposition leader Raushan Ershad.
“I told her we'll do it as per your demand... we'll go for downsizing the cabinet if they want it. Otherwise the size of the cabinet will remain unchanged.”
She said implementation of the ongoing development projects would get stalled if the cabinet was downsized.
“We've already passed [cleared] a number of projects... there'll be problems in implementing those. If you give more than one ministry to a minister, doubt will remain whether that minister will be able to do his works.”
The PM mentioned that she also discussed the issue with the leaders of some countries including Australia, New Zealand, Britain and India, where the parliamentary system of democracy was being followed. These countries didn't change the government during elections, she added.
She came down heavily on Jatiya Oikyafront leader Barrister Mainul Hosein for verbally abusing a female journalist on a live TV show.
The AL chief said she knew about many of his offences and would disclose those at an appropriate time.
She alleged that Mainul had collaborated with Pakistanis during the Liberation War and that he was also responsible for the abduction of eminent journalist Sirajuddin Hossain from the daily Ittefaq.
Hasina said Mainul had joined Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed's party after the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975 and later formed a party with Bangabandhu's self-confessed killers Bazlul Huda, Aziz Pasha and Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan. “So how would you expect gentle behaviour from him?” she questioned.
Regarding Mainul's link to Jamaat-e-Islami, she said there was a video that showed him addressing a Shibir meeting and a report on it was also published in the Ittefaq.
She asked journalists to expose his links to Jamaat by highlighting this incident.
The PM advised female journalists to protest against Mainul. “Lodge cases against him. The law enforcement agencies and the government will do whatever necessary in this regard.”
Blasting eminent jurist Dr Kamal Hossain, the PM said he has forged a political alliance with the “corrupt and anti-liberation forces” and those who tried to kill her.
She alleged that Jatiya Oikyafront was formed with the anti-liberation forces and those involved in the August 21 grenade attack, money laundering and looting of orphans' money.
Talking about road accidents, Hasina said drivers were always blamed for accidents, but the pedestrians should abide by traffic rules.
“You cannot stop the people from jaywalking by inflicting punishment on workers' leaders…. Highlight the matter that people shouldn't cross roads violating traffic rules.”
VISIT TO SAUDI ARABIA
The PM said her recent visit to Saudi Arabia would play a far-reaching role in strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.
Constructive discussions were held with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during the tour, she added.
Hasina said King Salman stressed the need for utilising opportunities of enhancing cooperation in commerce, investment, culture, defence and security sectors.
“The Saudi king highly praised Bangladesh's stunning successes and put emphasis on the continuation of the government in future to maintain the country's stability and pace of development for a long term.”
Referring to her meeting with the Saudi crown prince, the PM said he expressed his willingness to be a partner to Bangladesh's development by investing more in the country.
She said Saudi Arabia would send a high-profile business delegation and an expert team to Bangladesh in this regard.
Hasina said she separately invited the king and the crown prince to visit Bangladesh and both of them accepted the invitation.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, among others, were present at the press conference.