Partha Pratim Bhattacharjee
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has told her ruling Awami League colleagues that the new government would start its journey on January 27.
Hasina, also the AL president, made the suggestion at a meeting of the party’s election steering committee at Gono Bhaban on Thursday night, meeting sources told The Daily Star yesterday.
They added the new lawmakers would take oath of office on January 25 and the new cabinet on January 27.
The tenure of the ninth parliament expires on January 24.
The main opposition BNP and its 17 allies are boycotting the January 5 general election. The opposition demands that Hasina step down as the head of the polls-time government to make way for the formation of a nonparty government to oversee the election.
At Thursday’s meeting, Hasina reiterated her determination to hold the January 5 polls and form the next government even if the opposition camp continued its street agitation, sources said on condition of anonymity.
She suggested that she would be open for holding a fresh election by dissolving the 10th parliament if the BNP shunned violence and cut off ties with the Jamaat-e-Islami and if a consensus was reached.
According to the sources, Hasina said if the BNP did not respond to this call, the new government would continue to function.
She, however, did not say how long the new cabinet would be in office.
Hasina also instructed the 127 AL candidates who have been elected unopposed to donate Tk 10 lakh each to the party fund.
“You were elected uncontested and you didn’t need to spend any money to win the election race. So, each of you should donate Tk 10 lakh to the party fund for the next parliamentary elections,” an AL leader quoted the PM as saying.
She also said they would not get party ticket for future elections if they did not donate the amount, the AL leader added, requesting anonymity.
If these 127 candidates follow Hasina’s instructions, the party fund would get Tk 12.7 crore. The party has already collected about Tk 7.4 crore from the sale of 2,959 nomination papers, each at Tk 25,000.
Hasina also discussed at the meeting this week’s blockade and said the situation would improve soon. “People will resist the blockade in their own interest,” Hasina was quoted by a senior party leader as saying.
The PM asked Communications Minister Obaidul Quader to see that BRTC buses run on the long routes during blockades to ease public sufferings. “The government has bought 1,000 buses. Run those during blockades. If the blockaders ransack and destroy those, I will buy another 1,000 buses.”
Contacted, Obaidul Quader confirmed the PM’s instructions about the BRTC buses and said those had already started operating on long routes. “It will continue during blockades, as serving the people is our main target.”