Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday made it clear that the next general election would be held in line with constitutional provisions, meaning she would be holding office as the head of the government during the polls.
But she expressed her high optimism that all the parties registered with the Election Commission would join the race and uphold the country's democratic process, reports UNB.
"In line with the constitution, the 11th parliamentary elections will be held towards the end of 2018. How the election will be held is clearly stated in our constitution. An election-time government will be formed under the constitution which will provide all-out cooperation to the Election Commission to conduct the election," the PM said.
Hasina was addressing the nation, marking her government's four years in office after the January 5, 2014, national election, which the BNP and its allies boycotted as their demand for a non-partisan government went unheeded.
The BNP still insists that the government should form such an election-time government.
In her 26-minute speech, Hasina said the president constituted the new Election Commission as per the recommendations of a search committee. And the Commission has already “gained people's confidence” through conducting some local government elections, including the ones to two city corporations, in a fair manner.
"I hope that all the parties registered with the Election Commission participate in the next general election and help uphold the country's democratic process," she said.
The PM, however, expressed her apprehension that some vested quarters might try to create anarchy in the country centring on the next election.
But the people will not tolerate the loss of lives and property in the name of a movement boycotting the election, she warned.
Describing people as the country's real owners, the third-time PM asked them to determine their goals. "You have to decide what you want to see -- advancement of the country or backward march of Bangladesh. Think for a moment about the situation in the country 10 years back."
Throwing a question to the nation, she said, "Don't you want to educate your children with quality education and make them self-dependent? Don't you want electricity in all houses, development of roads in all villages, food in all houses and a peaceful life?
"We don't want to be identified as poor after 47 years of independence. We want to live as a dignified nation keeping our heads high in the world. If these are your desires, we're always beside you."
She said the government was determined to make the country a middle-income one by 2021 and a developed and prosperous one by 2041. "We aren't sitting idle just setting our aims but we're implementing necessary programmes."
The PM mentioned that the government did not want to stick to the past, but would not surely forget the past. "We'll step forward evaluating successes and failures of the past and correcting the wrong and errors."
Taking about the last BNP-Jamaat government, she said they gave a rise to terrorism, militancy and JMB leader Bangla Bhai and carried out serial bombings at 500 places of 63 districts simultaneously.
The BNP-Jamaat alliance also killed and burnt people, torched houses and set fire to the Holy Koran in the name of a movement to foil the 2014 election, she added. "Some 500 innocent people were killed, and 3,500 vehicles, 29 trains and nine launches were burnt."
The premier said her party's 2014 election victory helped Bangladesh to be on the development track for nine consecutive years while its economy saw a tremendous growth despite the global economic recession, according to BSS.
Talking about the success under her watch, Hasina said Bangladesh was already a low-middle income country, while its per capita income reached $1,610 and the volume of its GDP to Tk 1,975,817 crore.
Besides, the country's growth is 7.28 percent this year and the poverty rate has come down to 22 percent from 41 percent in 2005, she said.
The government contained terrorism and militancy, she said, adding that mass awareness was also being created against such social menaces.
The PM also elaborated her government's successes in education, health, communication, power and ICT sectors, saying the government was providing free textbooks to students on the first day of the year, achieved the capacity to generate 16,350 MW electricity and took electricity to the doorstep of 83 percent of the population.
About the step of her government in establishing 100 special economic zones across the country, Hasina expressed her firm optimism that no one would remain poor in Bangladesh in near future.