Dhaka, Bangladesh
Democracy, fair polls ill fit BNP rhetoric

Democracy, fair polls ill fit BNP rhetoric

PM says her govt holds elections properly, asks press to project

News Desk Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Thursday said democracy and fair polls ill fit BNP as she blamed the party leaderships for playing duck and drakes with people's franchise. She also criticized a section of the press for carrying negative aspects of the government and requested them to project its good deeds, too, that go in public interest, people's welfare. Responding to various demands of the journalists at a BFUJ function in Dhaka, the prime minister said her government is working towards declaring the mass media as service industry. About housing problem facing journalists, she said they would henceforth be provided flats on hire-purchase basis and not plots anymore. On politics and polls Sheikh Hasina said although BNP talks of democracy and free, fair and neutral elections, it is Ziaur Rahman who introduced the process of vote rigging in the country. "Capturing power illegally, he presented 'curfew democracy, not public democracy," she told her audience at the council of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) at the National Press Club. The premier, also the ruling Awami League chief, also mentioned the February 15, 1996 lopsided election, Magura by-election and Dhaka-10 by-election held during the post-Zia BNP regime. She said those who play with elections are now giving lectures on democracy and questioning the elections, being held under her government. She said Awami League does politics for the people and it established their voting rights. "Some 6,000 local government elections were held in the country during the current tenure of the government. But no one could raise any question over a single election because we didn't interfere in it." Indicating also elections to be held in democratic way in the future, too, the prime minister said it's the right of the people to exercise their franchise. "If people vote for us, we'll remain in power," Sheikh Hasina said. As per her party vision, she drew a line of actions meant for making Bangladesh hunger-and poverty-free by 2020 when the birth centenary of the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman will be celebrated, and a developed and prosperous nation by 2041. Turning to the press, Prime Minister Hasina urged the journalists to properly publish the good activities of her government in the interest of the country, neither for her own gains nor her party's. "We don't want mercy and favour from anyone. But we at least can demand that if we do any good work for the country, it should be published in a good manner, not in my interest nor my party, but in the interest of the country," she said. She said all should work together to brighten the image of the country and inform people properly about their facilities. "How can we take the country forward if there's no inspiration for people?" The PM noted that many think the media can't run without saying things against the government. "…this is a mental disease," she said. She urged the journalists to properly bring in the limelight the activities taken by her government for the development and welfare of people. "This should be done as we don't want to remain dependent on others; we want to live with dignity raising our heads high as we're a victorious nation." Talking about the Bangabandhu-1 satellite, the Prime Minister said Bangladesh has been able to send a modern satellite into the orbit as the 57th country, which brightened the country's image. She criticised BNP for making unguarded remarks about the satellite, urging people to imagine how those who have no minimum commonsense about the benefits of a satellite can develop the country. Without naming the names, Hasina said she does not read and allow two newspapers in her residence. "I don't need those who always wait for tearing of rope like a circus donkey to get flag." Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had been involved with journalism for some time during his student life, she recalled. "So, you can consider me as a member of your family." Focusing on her government activities for development of the media, she said the Awami League government gave approval for 44 television channels after coming to power in 2009, and of those, around 35 are now in operation. The AL government also formulated Bangladesh Journalist Welfare Trust Act 2014 to help the journalists. She urged the media owners and businesspersons to donate to the welfare trust fund. Noting that her government has already announced the 9th wage board, she said she wants it to be effective soon. The prime minister stressed the need for having an online media policy to check its negative impact on society. She said the government is now formulating a policy and law to prevent cybercrime. "Journalists are unnecessarily worried about the cyber crime law," she said, adding that the AL government never harasses journalists although criticism against her government continues. She criticised those who say there is no freedom of press in Bangladesh. "If there's no freedom of press, how they can say it in television talk-shows and write in newspapers," she questioned. The prime minister receives a report on the media every 15 days which shows that negative news against the government is higher than the positive ones. The Prime Minister also inaugurated the biennial council of the BFUJ. Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, Prime Minister's Information Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury and State Minister for Information Tarana Halim also spoke on the occasion. Chaired by BFUJ President Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, the event was moderated by its secretary-general Omor Faruk.

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