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PM and her press conference

Published : Wednesday, 5 September, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 1271

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has punctured out the steam of a political storm that has been brewing over a number of issues ahead on the next general election due in December next. Addressing a crowded press conference at her official residence on Sunday the Prime Minister (PM) doused the anger of her rivals mainly the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) saying that the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) should not be pressed into the polling system in haste, before the officials and the voters get accustomed to it. However, she said she was in favour of it and it should be introduced in the election system gradually starting from the urban areas.

With her remark the fear of her rivals appeared to have diminished a bit as it has been assured that the government will not back the Election Commission (EC) to use EVMs at random and widely in the next general election.  However, after the remarks of the PM, her rivals and anti government parties immediately lost a nearly genuine ground to lodge anti-EC and anti government movement.  As BNP has threatened such a movement after EC floated a proposal to deploy EVMs in all the polling station in the next general election.

With the observation of the PM, an allegation brought forward by her rivals that by using EVMs at random the government was plotting to rig the next election also stands untrue seriously embarrassing the parties which brought the allegation.
The style and the gesture of the PM while replying a series of questions on different issues at the widely televised press conference projected herself as a confident statesman, who has clear vision to lead her nation to prosperity despite prevailing political challenges. Replying jovially against certain electoral alliances against her party and government, the PM welcomed formation of alliances which according to her will help elections to be participatory and credible.

Her observation has also refuted her rivals which have so long been saying that the PM and her party was in favour of a system in which only the ruling party will contest in the election keeping others at bay. She said election will be held on time despite the threat of boycott. The PM said her party would neither obstruct BNP nor invite it to participate in the poll, because participation in elections is the rights that depend on the respective parties.

The PM reiterated that she had decided not to hold any dialogue with BNP after she had been disgracefully sent back by BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia from the her doorstep when the PM went to Khaleda's residence to express her condolence at the death of the latter's second son Arafat Rahman in 2015.

The PM refuted the allegation that her government had imprisoned her on false charges.  She said it was the court which has found guilty of corruption after a prolonged trial which took ten years during which her legal experts and leaders had failed to prove her innocence in the alleged embezzlement of fund from a state run orphanage. The PM advised her rivals not to launch movement against the government to free Khaleda Zia and instead to go to the court to prove her innocence in order to get her release from the prison where she has been detained from February last.

The PM said only the President can pardon her as per his prerogatives, opening a scope for the BNP to seek mercy from President Abdul Hamid.Supporting the observation of the PM, political observers said Khaleda Zia has been stuck in a legal quagmire as the handling of the orphanage fund was improper during her first term of office in 1991 to 1996. As Khaleda was found guilty and subsequently sentenced by court the heads of governments, the world bodies including the rights groups have been keeping mum.  Because the issue is no more related to politics or human rights and the people also understand that. Moreover, for the same reason BNP and its allies have failed woo people's support in launching movement to secure her release.
Meanwhile the press conference of the PM Hasina has been rated as most informative and entertaining over the years since her first term of office from 1996. It became more attractive after she returned to power on 2009. Earlier only the journalists especially reporters used to be bemused at the press conference.

However, with the start of live coverage by television channels, it has become a national show of entertainment as general people stay glued to television sets to listen witty and informative answers from the PM.  Her televised press conference can be compared only with Bangladesh cricketers playing any top team of the cricket world as most people of all social strata are found to watch the PM Hasina's press conference in every stalls, offices, homes and public places.

In course of the time the PM's Press conference became so popular that even the media houses started flouting rules and principles of journalism, in giving coverage to a newsmaker. A press conference is always meant for field journalists mainly the reporters. But in PM Hasina's press conference journalists irrespective of beat, desk and department crowd at her press conference.  Even editors, who generally do not cover regular events have started crowding PM's press conference.  Even the media trade union leaders most of whom have nothing to do with the press conference also occupy the seats of the reporters at the press conference.  Seeing uncontrolled attendance of the media people nowadays leaders of the ruling party also crowd the press conference shamelessly.

Some of the attendees instead of asking questions embarrass the PM eulogising her almost irrelevantly.  However, the PM often chastises them with befitting words at the press conference giving a great entertainment to other attendees and television watchers across the country. However, the Sunday's press conference was most professional as from the start to the end the floor was with the reporters who threw most relevant and useful questions to the PM. There was no much eulogising to embarrass the PM.

After the press conference people heaved a sigh of relieve as the PM exposed herself as the most accommodative statesman when she said it would not be wise to press EVMs in next election. People feared that the country would again step into confrontational politics.

General people were panicked as BNP and its allies repeatedly threatened movement against the government in the months ahead of the upcoming election.  In Bangladesh anti-government  movement means mayhem, especially when it is called by BNP and its principal ally Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI). More than a hundred people were killed and thousands were wounded in a movement launched to compel the government to stop the largely boycotted national election five years.

A year later another more than a hundred people were burned in a spare of fire bombing in a three-month long transport blockade from early January to end March in 2015. People can no more afford to see clashes, mayhem and arson on the street. They want unending peace for the sake the economic growth of the individual, the society and the country.

The author is Business Editor,
The Daily Observer



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