PM Sheikh Hasina questions leadership credentials of Tarique Rahman

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday questioned how BNP leader Tarique Rahman can lead the party as he does not dare to return home.

“If a political leader has no courage to return home, how can he lead?” she wondered addressing a discussion, marking the 73rd founding anniversary of Bangladesh Awami League.

Hasina, also president of ruling AL, presided over the discussion held at her party’s central office in the city’s Bangabandhu Avenue through a videoconference from Ganabhaban, reports UNB.

She said it is not correct to say that Tarique Zia is not allowed to return home. “None ousted him. He willingly went abroad and then didn’t return,” she said.

Tarique went abroad during the caretaker government (in September 2008) giving a written bond that he won’t do politics anymore, she said, asking the BNP leaders how they could forget it.

In this context, Hasina said she was obstructed to return home during the then caretaker government, but she came back home (on May 7, 2007) defying the ban on her travel taking it as a challenge.

Noting that she was sued in a murder case and arrest warrant was issued against her, the PM said she announced she would return home, appear before the court and face the case.

The premier again raised the question how the election can be participatory one when its rival BNP is facing the crisis of right leadership.

“How the election can be participatory one when a party had created from a pocket of a person who illegally grabbed the power and now its leaders are convicted of corruption, murder and arms-haul charges,” she said. Tariq, she said, is a fugitive too.

Referring to the 2018 national election, the PM said BNP leaders changed their candidatures in a constituency on several occasions due to nomination business.

She said Inam Ahmed Chowdhury and Morshed Khan told her that Tarique Zia sought money in exchange for giving them the party’s nomination, but they refused.

Hasina questioned how the party can attract the voters when they start election business and how the people can vote for a party when it is leaderless.

Criticising the BNP acting chairman she said Tarique Rahman has proved that his parents Ziaur Rahman and Khaleda Zia were involved in the 1975 August carnage conspiracy by supporting the slogan of ‘pachattorer hatiar’ or the killers.

Lambasting Ziaur Rahman for rewarding the 15th August killers with lucrative jobs in Bangladesh foreign missions, she said he got killed and even none found his body.

“Yes, Ershad had brought a box (to Dhaka). But what was in the box? Later, Ershad himself said Zia’s body had not been there in that box. But the box was buried in Sangsad Bhaban (Chandrima Udyan),” she said, adding that even Khaleda Zia and her son can’t say that they had seen his body.

She said BNP leaders now place floral wreaths there. But Khaleda’s spouse or the BNP leader is not there. “The truth will get revealed one day,” she said.

Taking a swipe at the BNP leaders who criticise the government over the Padma Bridge issue, Hasina said the World Bank stopped its funding from Siddirganj power plant and Dhaka-Mymensingh Road during the regime of Khaleda on graft charges.

She questioned how BNP can raise questions over the Padma Bridge issue when its leaders -from head to toe- are engulfed in corruption. “BNP in fact is a factory of making lies,” she added.

About the criticism of BNP leaders over the flood issue, the PM said they failed to stand beside the flood-hit people and could not provide even a fistful of food to them. But they are shedding crocodile tears staying here (in Dhaka).

The AL president said her party leaders have been working hard to extend support to the flood victims even in the very risky places.

Noting that construction of Padma Bridge is a big achievement for the nation, PM Hasina blasted the BNP leaders for their demand to stop the grand opening celebration of the bridge on the plea of flood.

About Bangabandhu Bridge, she said a survey was made over the Jamuna River by Japan on a request of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, but Ziaur Rahman stopped it.

HM Ershad again took initiative for the construction of the bridge. And he did much work over it. But it didn’t progress much during Khaleda’s regime, she added.

Later, the Awami League government constructed the bridge after making it a multipurpose one through incorporation of rail, electricity and gas lines defying the World Bank’s objections over the inclusion of rail line, she said.

She said 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,” said Hasina.

AL presidium members Begum Matia Chowdhury, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Abdur Rahman, AHM Khairuzzaman Liton and Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya Bir Bikram, joint secretary general Mahbubul Alam Hanif and international affairs secretary Dr Shammi Ahmed, among others, spoke on the occasion.

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