None would remain hungry, poor : PM Sheikh Hasina
Special Correspondent: Expressing her firm optimism that not a single person would remain hungry and poor in Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said her party does politics for changing the lot of the countrymen, not changing its own fortune.
“The aim of our politics is that not a single person will remain hungry, poor and homeless … we are pursuing politics for changing the lot of the people, not changing our own fortune,” she said.
The prime minister was addressing a civic rally on the occasion of the inauguration of the nationwide “Food-Friendly Programme for the Ultra Poor” at Thanarhat AU Pilot High School ground here this morning.
Food Minister Advocate Kamrul Islam presided over the function, while Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Moshiur Rahman Ranga, State Minister for Social Affairs Nuruzzaman Ahmed, AL Organizing Secretary Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, Chilmari Upazila Parishad Chairman Shawkat Hossain Sarkar, Kurigram district AL president Aminul Islam Monju and general secretary M Jafar Alam spoke at the rally, among others.
Secretary of the Ministry of Food AM Badruddoza delivered the welcome address.
Later, the prime minister inaugurated the food distribution programme by handing over special cards and rice to 15 local people.
Sheikh Hasina, the then opposition leader, during her visit to monga-stricken northern districts on November 8, 2005, had pledged to remove plight of Monga-hit people if Awami League (AL) comes to power.
Accordingly, her government after taking office in 2009 has been pursuing a number of social safety net programnes to alleviate poverty in the northern districts. Food distribution at Taka 10 per kilogram is the latest one in aid to poor.
The government has allocated Taka 2,100 crore for food-support programme to distribute food among ultra poor people with Taka 27 subsidy in every kilogram of rice, the secretary of the food ministry said.
Under the programme, the first of its kind in the country, 50 lakh poor families across the country would get rice at Taka 10 per kilogram during the lean season.
Officials said special cards would be issued for the poor people who would get 30 kilograms of rice a month for five months every year. The five months are: March, April, September, October and November.
The food ministry has already prepared a policy and allocated 5.5 lakh tonnes of rice for smooth operation of the programme from September to November this year and March to April next year.
The prime minister said five crore people have been graduated to middle class from lower class thanks to various pragmatic steps of the present Awami League.
“We have lessened the poverty rate to 22 percent from 57 percent in the last seven and half years, and our target is to reduce the rate by at least seven or eight percent by 2021,” she said.
Calling upon the countrymen to strengthen the hands of Awami League and gather under the party flag, Sheikh Hasina said her party comes to power to give something to the people.
“The Awami League gives something to the people — you have realized it. But those who were in power in the past snatched away everything from the people … so, strengthen further the hands of the party (AL) and gather under its flag,” she said.
Elaborating her government steps for socioeconomic development of the country, Sheikh Hasina said the government is working tirelessly to change the lot of the people. “We would further change your fortune through which you would lead a better and prosperous life,” she said.
The prime minister reiterated her pledge to celebrate the golden jubilee of the country’s independence by establishing Bangladesh as a hunger and poverty-free nation by 2021.
“Our ultimate goal is to turn Bangladesh into a hunger and poverty-free prosperous country as dreamt by Bangabandhu … we have firm belief that the nation would be able to achieve the goal Isha Allah,” she said.
The premier said her government has been working relentlessly to ensure food for the poor people and present a beautiful life to them.
“We are taking every step for them after observing their condition and how they lead their life and livelihood and whether they have food, house, clothes or not … we would improve their living standard by overcoming these problems,” she said.
While talking about the launching “Food-Friendly Programme for the Ultra Poor” from Chilmari today, Sheikh Hasina said this area was once known as famine-prone. “But this bad name has been erased due to various steps of her government,” she said.
Talking about terrorism and militancy, the premier reiterated her call to all including parents, guardians, and teachers to remain alert so that none could get engaged in terrorism, militancy and drug addiction.
“Everybody in the society will have to be very much careful about movement of their children and play role from their respective position so that the children could not be derailed with the patrons of the terrorists,” she said.
Accusing again the BNP-Jamaat of patronising terrorism and militancy in the country, she said a terrible situation was created across the country due to emergence of twin demons during the misrule of the BNP-Jamaat nexus.
However, she said, the government of Awami League had tackled the social menaces with iron hand after coming to power in 2009.
Sheikh Hasina said some incidents happened recently in some parts of the country, and the law enforcement agencies stamped out the culprits by launching successful drives.
She said that her government has been able to resolve the Gulshan Holey Artisan hostage crisis in just 10 hours through eliminating the militants and rescued 13 hostages alive. “Such a success could not be seen anywhere in the world except Bangladesh,” she said.
Raising the issue of ongoing trial of war criminals, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is being freed from stigma as the government executed killers of the Father of the Nation and is implementing the judgments against war criminals who killed intellectuals, freedom fighters and tortured mothers and sisters during the war of liberation.
The prime minister also pointed out her government successes in settling maritime boundary dispute with Myanmar and India peacefully thorough international arbitration as well as resolving decades-old land boundary dispute with India.
“It’s the Awami League government that resolved long-standing maritime disputes and exchanged enclaves very peacefully, while the previous BNP and Jatiya Party governments didn’t take any steps, even not dare to raise the issues before the concerned governments of India and Myanmar,” she said.
She said the past governments only remained busy with changing their own fortune through plundering and corruption, instead of developing the country.
Terming the exchange of enclaves with India as a “historical incident” in the world, Sheikh Hasina said her government has taken various steps for the development of the former enclave people.