Polls after dissolving JS: PM
She says Khaleda scared of appearing before court for her corruptionStaff Correspondent
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Wednesday hinted that the next general elections might be held under the president after dissolving the parliament.
‘The elections cannot be held with the parliament not being dissolved. We practise the Westminster type of government in which the head of the government proposes the election date to the head of the state,’ she said in the parliament.
‘In that line, I will propose the date for the elections and the president will give his directives to this end. It is his jurisdiction whether this cabinet will be retained or shortened and when the parliament will be dissolved,’ Hasina said in reply to a question of JP member Mujibul Huq during the MP’s weekly question time.
The constitution says that the Election Commission will arrange the general elections within 90 days preceding the dissolution of the parliament. In line with the directives, the commission must hold elections between October 25, 2013 and January 25, 2014.
The 15th amendment to the constitution provisioned for the parliament not being dissolved during the polls.
Hasina once again rejected the opposition demand for the reinstatement of the the annulled provision of the caretaker government to hold the parliamentary polls.
The prime minister’s parliamentary statement was apparently aimed at allaying the opposition fear that the ruling Awami League was going to hold the next polls without dissolving the five-year Jatiya Sangsad which might rig the election in its favour.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party has already alleged that the Awami League was ‘conspiring’ to hold elections before the schedule with the government in office.
Hasina rejected the opposition’s accusations of plotting to rig the polls. She said that 6,000 elections including upazila polls, parliamentary by-polls and union council polls were held with the government in office and none could question the fairness of the elections. ‘Even the BNP won a by-poll to a constituency where Awami League has always won,’ she said.
The Election Commission is strong enough to hold elections in a free and fair manner, she said adding that her party had made a set of recommendations for strengthening the commission and as the recommendations were implemented, the commission is now strong enough.
‘People can now cast their vote at their will to elect their representatives,’ the prime minister said adding that the Awami League never wants to take away the people’s right to franchise.
‘We will remain in power if people want; we will not be in power, if they do not,’ she said. Hasina pointed out bitter experiences of unelected governments that conducted the national polls.
She said that the people who demand the reinstatement of the caretaker government system should not forget the repression the army-backed government had carried out for two years when army was deployed although the situation was not war-like. ‘If you have forgotten the experiences by now, I have nothing to say.’
Hasina added that the constitutional provision for the caretaker government was incorporated in the constitution after the ‘farcical’ elections on February 15, 1996.
Meanwhile, winding up her speech before the prorogation of the 14th session, the prime minister on Wednesday said the leader of the opposition in parliament, Khaleda Zia, was scared of facing the court because of her involvement in corruption.
Hasina said if she (Khaleda) did not commit any corruption in the Zia orphanage trust, why she was then afraid of appearing before the court.
‘When the time for appearing before court comes, the opposition leader falls sick but she gets well and starts speaking against the government after the court appearance date is over,’ she said.
Pointing to the recent Sonali Bank-Hallmark scam, Hasina asked who the former managing director of Sonali Bank was. She said he was a leader of Zia Parishad.
The prime minister said her government was not hushing up anything. Whenever anything was divulged, steps were being taken against the offenders.
Hasina said there were some formalities to be fulfilled for recovering the embezzled money.
She said misdeeds of those who had been in power in the past were now gradually being exposed and her government was taking steps to stop them.
The prime minister said son of the opposition leader was involved in money laundering.
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