Why people voted for Awami League
Ever since its formation in 1949 the party has remained the most credible vanguard of secular politics in Bangladesh and contributed to making the country a relatively liberal Muslim majority state.
After the gruesome killing of the country’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 the Awami League faced violent challenges from the so-called Islamic nationalist and pro-Pak forces who do not believe in the concept of democracy and wish to capture state power cost in the name of religion. Certain sections of armed forces, mercenary elements and sections of pro-Pak political entities often came together to subvert institutions of democracy and hijack state power in the past.
These groups represented by BNP and Jamaat have always found religion as a convenient tool and hence they advocate a strong Islamic nationalist identity for the country and paint India in a negative light to generate a sense of psychological insecurity in the mind of the people. The past BNP-Jamaat government was a clear demonstration of the fact that Islamic nationalism had been used as a garb for probably the worst form of political corruption. The two sons of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, one of whom recently died abroad, virtually created mayhem in the country by siphoning of millions of dollars.
During the recently held national elections which brought the Awami League to power for three consecutive term with an unprecedented majority, the party largely focused on development related issues and promised to curb religious radicalism and militancy. The party’s performance during the last ten years by providing good governance ensuring all-round development won acclamation of the people and paved the way for its smooth return to power.
During the last ten years of Awami League rule Bangladesh has become a real revelation for the economists in the world by emerging as one of the top countries in the financial progress index and by gaining 7.86 per cent GDP growth rate. Per capita income, a measure of people’s average income, has tripled to $ 1, 175. Inflation rate has been pulled down to 5.7 per cent. Bangladesh has outclassed the countries with low income and neighbours in South Asia. Bangladesh has not only achieved a lot during this period, its supreme leader and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has earned a number of international awards in recognition of her capability.
The construction of Padma Bridge through self-finance would remain a remarkable achievement of the government. For turning the economic base of the country solid and stronger, export income has tripled, currently at $ 41 billion, while foreign exchange reserves grew manifold, currently at $ 33 billion. 100 economic zones have been set up. During the last ten years a record number of text books, around 450 million, were distributed; around 22 million students were awarded scholarship or stipend. Primary school drop-out rate has fallen sharply and literacy rate has improved to above 73 per cent.
The government has undertaken some mega infrastructure projects including Padma Bridge, Padma railway, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Ramphal Power Project, Matabari Power generation centre, Metro Rail and LNG terminal.
Number of people now living above poverty line is more than 90 per cent and unemployment rate has gone down to around 4 per cent. Thousands of crores have been spent for social safety net programmes bringing millions within the net of direct State financial assistance. The rate of poverty has been reduced to 21.3 per cent and ultra poverty to 10 per cent by increasing the budget for social safety sector.
In power generation sector the government’s achievement during the last ten years has been one of great implications. Currently the daily power generation is around 16, 000 megawatt with load-shedding becoming a thing of the past. In power sector the government has increased power generation to 20,133 mega watt which remained 4,942 mega watt during BNP-Jamaat regime.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with her pragmatic leadership could seal win with Myanmar over maritime boundary dispute and with India over maritime and land boundary disputes. She has taken Bangladesh to space by floating the first ever satellite Bangabandhu-1.
Bangladesh has achieved tremendous progress in all the sectors during this period making the country a role model for development. The government has brought about stability in political scenario by showing zero tolerance to all sorts of anarchy, terrorism and violence in the name of politics. The government has trimmed the wings of militancy whenever it tried to rear its head.
The Awami League government has brought about vast development in roads, highways and bridges sector besides undertaking unimaginable progress of the railways. It has built 350 km new rail line, 91 station buildings, 79 new stations and 295 new rail bridges during the last ten years.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has earned admiration of the people at home and abroad as she could eliminate extremism and militancy from the country. Trial of war criminals is another notable success by which she has proved her worth in making the country free from communal politics and pro-Pak elements.
It is obviously clear that the people of Bangladesh would never have liked to vote for BNP-Jamaat alliance to get back to the horrific days witnessed during the period 2001-06. They still have memories of heinous attacks on religious minorities by the BNP-Jamaat cadres. They are yet to forget the corruption and high handed dealings of Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman and his cohorts who ran a parallel government from Hawa Bhavan during BNP regime. Terrible memories of August 21, rising of militancy and killings of politicians and cultural activists belonging to secular and progressive groups still haunt the countrymen.
By voting for the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League the people sent a clear signal that they want stability, progress and development. They clearly disapproved the corrupt practices of the BNP-Jamaat regime and were not enthused about political appeals in the name of religion and Islamic nationalism.