Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Tuesday stated that Covid-19 vaccine has been procured for the interest of general people of the country.
“Vaccine was not purchased for the benefit of any vested group,” he insisted at a regular briefing at his official residence in the morning.
He also urged BNP leaders to abstain from spreading confusion over a sensitive issue like vaccines, and said “The allegations of business interests regarding vaccine procurement are baseless and unnecessary.”
The general secretary of the ruling Awami League said “It is unfair to create undue suspicion among the people and tarnish a good deed unnecessarily.”
Quader called on the BNP to make constructive criticism as a political party and said that “The people will not accept their (BNP’s) lies like previous times.”
The minister also urged the people of the country to boycott the people who are spreading the propaganda and false confusion about the vaccine.
Meanwhile, the first consignment containing five million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine purchased by Bangladesh from licensed manufacturers Serum Institute of India under the brand name Covishield reached Dhaka on Monday.
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Last week, Bangladesh received two million doses of the same vaccine as a gift from India.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to launch a pilot coronavirus vaccination drive at Kurmitola General Hospital in the capital on January 27.
She will inaugurate the vaccination programme virtually, said Abdul Mannan, Secretary of Health Service Division of the Health Ministry, on Saturday.
The primary vaccine campaign will begin by vaccinating a nurse at the hospital, he said.
According to the government, Bangladesh’s Covid-19 fatalities rose to 8,055 on Tuesday as the health authorities recorded 14 more coronavirus-related deaths in 24 hours till morning.
A total of 515 new cases were identified pushing up the national tally to 532,916, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said in a handout.
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Expressing doubt about the fair voting in the elections to Chattogram City Corporation on Wednesday, BNP on Tuesday alleged its leaders and activists have been arrested and harassed in the port city in connection with the polls.
“BNP’s 69 leaders and activists have been arrested in Chattogram over the election. Why have they been arrested? A case has been filed against our 1,000 leaders and activists there. But no one of Awami League was arrested and no case has been filed against them,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Speaking at a doa mahfil, he criticised the Election Commission (EC) for its failure to create a proper election atmosphere in Chattogram.
“Selling out his soul, the Chief Election Commissioner is now licking Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s feet. Don't you be ashamed of yourself? You say you’re a bureaucrat and a former DC. But such a great slave cannot be found anywhere else,” the BNP leader said.
Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal’s Dhaka east city unit arranged the programme at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, marking the sixth death anniversary of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s younger son Arafat Rahman Koko.
Rizvi said though Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder expressed concern over the Chattogram city polls, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) remained silent about it. “As the CEC is getting the blessings of the Prime Minister, he is not bothered at all about the unfair and repressive acts centring the election and voting.”
The BNP leader said the Election Commission does not need fair voting and election as the CEC only requires money allocation for plundering in the name of training some people and buying EVMs.
Rizvi said noted intellectuals made an appeal to the President to remove corrupt CEC KM Nurul Huda as he destroyed democracy and buried fair election. “But he (Huda) does not want to quit. Awami government also doesn’t want to remove him as it thinks such a great servant and slave will never be found again.”
He said there is no alternative to a movement to oust the current government and ensure a fair national election in the country under the neutral election commission and administration.
The fifth phase polls to 31 municipalities will be held on February 28 as per the schedule announced by the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday.
Feb 2 is the deadline for submission of nomination papers, said EC’s Joint Secretary (Public Relations) SM Asaduzzaman.
According to the schedule, the date for scrutiny of nomination papers is February 4, while the last date for withdrawal of candidature is February 11.
Municipalities that are scheduled to go to polls in this phase include Haragach in Ranpur, Charghat and Durgapur in Rajshahi, Nachole in Chapainawabganj, Joypurhat, Bogura, Kaliganj and Maheshpur in Jhenaidah, Jashore and Keshabpur in Jashore, Bhola and Charfesson in Bhola, Madaripur and Shibchar in Madaripur, Nandail in Mymensingh, Dewanganj, Jamalpur, Islampur and Madarganj in Jamalpur.
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The rest are – Singair in Manikganj, Kaliganj in Gazipur, Bhairab in Kishoreganj, Habiganj, Brahmanbaria, Matlab and Shahrasti in Chandpur, Raipur in Lakshmipur, Mirsarai, Baraiyarhat, Raozan and Rangunia in Chattogram.
In the first phase, election to 24 municipalities was held on December 28 and the second phase polls to 60 municipalities took place on January 16.
The third phase polls to 64 municipalities will be held on January 30 and the fourth phase election to 56 municipalities will take place on February 14.
Bringing various allegations of vote ‘rigging’ in Saturday’s second phase of municipal polls, BNP on Monday said the current Election Commission (EC) has been working as an ‘electoral post box’ of Awami League.
“The ruling party indulged in massive violence, bloodshed and vote-rigging as before in the second phase of elections to 60 municipalities. They openly rigged votes through EVMs, the digital machines of snatching votes, after capturing voting centres everywhere,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Also Read: AL snatched victory in municipal polls: BNP
Speaking at a press conference at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, he also said the victory or defeat of a candidate is fixed by Gonobhaban, not by people, both in the national and local body polls during the tenure of Awami League.
“The Election Commission is now just an electoral post box of Awami League and their job is to publish the list sent by the Awami League high command. Sheikh Hasina is the mastermind of this game while the police administration is the main player,” the BNP leader said.
He also alleged that the EC has become a puppet of the government as it has failed to play the neutral role in conducting the polls.
Rizvi alleged that Awami League used a ‘new model of deception’ in the elections to Basurhat Municipality in Noakhali’s Companygonj where ruling party secretary general Obaidul Quader’s younger brother Abdul Quader Mirza was elected mayor by creating an uproar with his recent remarks.
Also Read: Municipality polls: BNP makes allegations of vote fraud
“Various electoral models that 'Rakibul Huda or Nurul Huda' clique has produced through futile elections over the last decade have not faded from the memory of people…the latest discovery of the useless Commission to meet the demand of the ruling Awami League is Basurhat model,” he observed.
The BNP leader said the ruling party used Quader Mirza to implement the new model to bring some sensation in the pre-set ‘unilateral elections’. “People could realise this drama of Awami League before the polls. Basurhat Municipal election is a new model of Awami League's hypocrisy.”
He said Quader Mirza criticised Awami League to draw media attention and thus implement the new model through staging a farce in the name of elections.
Rizvi also slammed EC senior secretary M Alamgir for his comment that huge voters spontaneously exercised their right to franchise. “Such lies can be utterer by a big shameless person who sold his soul to the government. This Commission has become the mouthpiece of the government.”
Also Read: 2nd phase municipal polls Saturday
As always, he said, the role of the Election Commission in Saturday's municipal elections was very ‘shameless’.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Sunday alleged that Awami League (AL) candidates snatched the victory in Saturday’s municipal polls by indulging in ‘vote robbery ‘.
"You’ve seen what's happened to the municipal elections held yesterday (Saturday). They (AL) have captured most of the polling stations and snatched the victory by indulging in vote robbery,” he said.
Fakhrul also lamented that a BNP nominated councillor who got elected securing 85 percent of votes in Sirajganj municipality was killed.
He made the remarks while speaking at a meeting of BNP’s Dhaka divisional coordination committee on the celebration of the golden jubilee of independence.
The meeting was held at BNP standing committee member Mirza Abbas’ Shahjahanpur residence.
Fakhrul said the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used in the elections to ‘rig’ votes and ‘manipulate’ the results through different tricks. “They’re using the state machinery to stay in power and cement the one-party governance system.”
He said it is unfortunate that the nation is going to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of its independence when people are deprived of freedom and democratic and constitutional rights, including the voting one.
The BNP leader said a section of people in the country has been amassing wealth while the ordinary ones are struggling with poverty and becoming poor to poorer.
“Our democracy has been annihilated and human rights have been snatched. That’s why we attach great importance to this Golden Jubilee and thus remind people about their aspirations for which they liberated the country in 1971,” he said.
Fakhrul said their party’s main goal is to establish a truly democratic state and democratic society ensuring the equal rights of all by uniting people.
He said though the nation liberated the country in 1971 through a bloodstained struggle, Bangladesh now cannot be said to be an independent state in true sense.
The BNP leader said Bangladeshis are regularly killed along the border by Indian Border Security Force. “Such genocide along the border of any civilised country can’t continue.”
He said Bangladesh’s justified rights as an independent country are not being ensured. “The current government is ensuring the benefits of the neighbouring countries by adopting a knee-jerk policy. “But we’re unable to resolve the outstanding problems (with the neighbour).”
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said their party will present the ‘genuine’ history of the Liberation War before the new generation by celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the indolence in a befitting manner.