Hasina blames India, US collusion for Awami League's defeat in 2001 polls

It was an international conspiracy to gain control over Bangladesh's natural gas that led to the Awami League's defeat in the 2001 national polls, says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 11 March 2017, 11:24 AM
Updated : 11 March 2017, 12:22 PM

The Awami League chief's remarks came on Saturday while speaking at the National Convention of the party youth front for women, the Juba Mahila League.

The BNP assumed power after the Eighth Parliamentary Election after getting 41.40 percent of votes that helped it win 193 parliamentary seats. Its ally the Jamaat-e-Islami clinched 17 seats with 4.28 percent votes.

The Awami League, which got 40.02 percent votes, had to leave office with only 62 seats in Parliament.

"I wanted to use the country's resources for the people first...Wanted to keep a 50-year reserve, then to consider whether to sell or not.

"What happened? ... The RAW representative, he had been doing rounds at the Hawa Bhaban (Khaleda Zia's political office then). It was the same case for the American embassy's representative," said Hasina.

She claimed that the Awami League was defeated as an outcome of a conspiracy hatched by the countries to take control of the natural gas reserves.

Hasina had said on several occasions after that election that a conspiracy was in the works against her as she had not agreed to sell gas to foreign companies while being in power between 1996 and 2001.

But it's the first time she levelled allegations against India's top intelligence agency the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the US embassy in Bangladesh and blamed them for her party's defeat.

But many Awami League leaders in private have raised those allegations against the then RAW station chief for being too close to Khaleda Zia's son and for influencing India's decision to back the BNP.

After the BNP won the polls, the then Indian National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra rushed to Dhaka to congratulate Khaleda and told journalists that India "would not put all its eggs in one basket."

Leaders of the BNP, which now has no representation in the House after boycotting the 2014 polls, have called the government to make public the deals to be signed during the prime minister's upcoming India visit.

Referring to that, Hasina said, "Now we hear so much anti-India statements. I ask today, who promised before the 2001 polls to sell gas to India which the American companies wanted? It was Khaleda Zia... she did that to come in power. Not me.

"And now they come up with anti-India statements."

Hasina said that it was the BNP who agitated against the Farakka Barrage time and again. "You (Khaleda) even organised a long march to Farakka ... And forgot to raise the Ganges water issue during your India visit!"

During her India visit as the prime minister after the 1991 election, Khaleda Zia did not discuss the issue.

"Who's the broker then?" asked Hasina.

BNP leaders have repeatedly blamed the Awami League for protecting India's interest.

The Ganges water treaty was signed in 1996 when the Awami League came in power for the first time in 21 years after the 1975 coup.

After the 2009 polls, the maritime boundary issues with India and Myanmar were solved.

And after the 2014 elections, the land boundary issue was resolved with India.

Hasina said that the post-1975 government of military dictators Ziaur Rahman, HM Ershad and even Khaleda did not address these matters.

"If they are so patriotic, then why didn't they raise the issues," she said. "They behaved like brokers."

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher