Mamunur Rashid from New York
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina, on Friday dismissed any chances of midterm election and also dialogue with Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Sheikh Hasina told the journalists at a press briefing at the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York.
Hasina said that the question of holding dialogue with the opposition parties could arise if she failed to run the country. 'We are governing the country smoothly, economy is fine and people are in peace and comfort. Polls boycott was their [BNP] wrong decision. Why should people pay for it? A political party should take the right decision at the right time. The BNP failed to make the right decision and they are responsible for it,' she said.
"What interim election? Why would we need that and for whom? Should we have a poll to bring Ziaur Rahman's party to office? Don't we know he grabbed power illegally!"
Asked whether the ruling party will open talks with the opposition, Hasina told the news conference at the UN Permanent Mission in New York, "A dialogue with the opposition? Who's the opposition? How do you define an opposition in a parliamentary democracy? "Those who are outside (the Parliament) ...What can I do?"
The Jatiya Party has emerged as the Opposition in the House after the BNP and its allies boycotted the 10th Parliamentary Election held on January 5.
"If they are out (of the House), then they are not there. What can I do? They did not join the elections. One has to pay for wrong decisions in politics," said Hasina.
Hasina appeared more emboldened than before after the BNP-led 20 party alliance split recently and a new alliance was formed.
One of the recurring issues in the BNP-led alliance centred on Khaleda Zia's decision to boycott the January 5 polls because pollsters had predicted its victory and leaders within the BNP and in the fraternal parties appeared divided on the issue.
Hasina brushed aside allegations of an 'understanding' between the Awami League and the Jamaat-e-Islami on the war crimes issue.
This had surfaced after the Supreme Court reduced war criminal Delwar Hossain Sayedee's death sentence to 'life in prison until death.'
Replying to a query on this issue, the Prime Minister said, "If there was any deal with Jamaat, why would the trial happen?
"The judiciary will decide whether a death penalty should be given or not. Our judiciary is independent and we cannot interfere with its work." "Is it me who gave the verdict?" Hasina asked the journalists.
"Our government has tried (war criminals). Did anyone else do that? Rather they made war criminals ministers. Try those first who gave ministerial positions to war criminals," she added.
Jamaat-e-Islami chief Matiur Rahman Nizami is awaiting a verdict from the International Crimes Tribunal for his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity in 1971. During the BNP-led coalition's tenure (2001-6), Nizami was the minister for industries.
War crimes convict and Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mujahid was minister for social welfare at that time.
In her recent address in Brahmanbaria, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia advised Hasina to keep her passport and visas ready, insisting people will not spare her for 'misgovernance.'
"Why will I take a visa? I was born at Tungiparha (in Bangladesh). She (Khaleda) was born at India's Shiligurhi. It's she who would need a visa if needed," Hasina shot back. Referring to time of the military-backed caretaker government regime, she said, "I did not flee. Every airline was asked not to fly me back. But did they manage to keep me out?
"She (Khaleda) would have left if her two sons (Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman) were allowed to leave."
The Prime Minister alleged that BNP founder Ziaur Rahman allowed Jamaat-e-Islami gain legitimacy and return to politics in Bangladesh by amending the Constitution. "The High Court has also declared Ziaur Rahman's regime as illegal."
Replying to a journalist question, Hasina said that her government was fighting corruption -- or else the country would not have prospered.
"There were international attempts to label us as corrupt. We took the challenge. They failed to prove anything. I am talking about the Padma Bridge project," she said.
"How come power generation increases to 11,700 MW from 3,200 MW during my government if there is corruption?" She asked at the media briefing.
"We did not come to power to do business. We are here to create opportunities for business," added Hasina.
The Prime Minister said that she will meet her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Saturday.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, Telecoms Minister Abdul Latif Siddque, Food Minister Quamrul Islam, Prime Minister's Advisers HT Imam and Masiur Rahman, State Ministers Shahriar Alam and Junayed Ahmed Palak and Bangladesh's Permanent Representative to the UN AKA Momen were also present at the briefing.