Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday slammed those who are talking in favour of an unelected government for an interim period, asking them to think who had benefited from such a government during the 2007-2008 period.
"There was an unelected government (in Bangladesh) from 2007 to '08 and who had benefited (from that)?" she said.
While opening the month-long 'Amar Ekushey Book Fair-2023' on the premises of the Bangla Academy and the Suhrawardy Udyan in the city, the Prime Minister said there are some so-called intellectuals in Bangladesh who said how the Mahabharata could be impure if an unelected government assumed office for a period of two or four years.
She added: …The constitution will be tainted and the lives and livelihoods of the people will be ruined (with unelected government in power). If anyone looks into those two years (of last caretaker government), it will be seen that everything, including business-commerce, literary practice and economic condition, were shattered during that period."
The Premier Minister told the countrymen that they can better realise who are favouring an unelected government, adding that they who fear to face the people and know that they will not be voted to power through elections are out to destabilise the country though different means.
Sheikh Hasina, also president of the Awami League, said the then caretaker government had been forced to give an election (in 2008) in which BNP got only 30 seats out of 300 while her party-led grand alliance won the remaining ones.
"They got only 30 seats (in the 2008 election) and how will they get more? We have gained support from the people through work and this is not our fault. We will continue to work for the people's welfare," she added.
She said in continuation of the election, her government has been in power since 2009 to date through the people's mandate following the democratic process.
"The sports, culture, literary works and book fair are flourishing and development is taking place in the country as the Awami League is in power for a long period," she said.
Referring to the apex court verdict that declared illegal the Zia, Ershad and Mostaq governments and their acts as they came to the power promulgating martial laws, she said her government has taken every measure to continue the democratic trend.
"Since we brought the 15th amendment to the Constitution, stability and democratic process have been prevailing in Bangladesh," she said.
But, on the way to achieve the stability, she said, they have to overcome all natural and manmade disasters such as killing people alive through arson attacks in the name of so-called movement.
"Now stability prevails in the country. But, some people don't feel well seeing the stability in the country," she said.
The premier called upon those, who want to assumed power, to stand in line with the people, join elections and seek votes, saying, "If the people choose them, they will come in power."
Sheikh Hasina said transparent ballot boxes and national identity cards were introduced and voter lists with photographs were prepared as per the proposals placed by her party so that the people would exercise their voting rights peacefully and freely.
The premier said they have built the country as 'Digital Bangladesh' which has both merits and demerits as the digital platforms are being used to spread anti-government propagandas, adding, "I want you won't take a decision on what you see and hear (on digital platforms) without knowing the facts."
After inaugurating the book fair in person after a gap of three years, the Prime Minister said that she feels very happy to come to the Bangla Academy to open the book fair physically after a long time.
The theme of this year's book fair is "Paro Boi, Garo Desh: Bangabandhur Bangladesh (Read Book build country: Bangabandhu's Bangladesh) and the Bangla Academy is organizing the fair.
At the function, the Prime Minister unwrapped seven books published by the Bangla Academy that include a compilation of the books written by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman titled "Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Rochonabali-1" edited by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, President Abdul Hamid-written book "Amar Jibonneeti, Amar Rajneeti", "Karagarer Rojnamcha Path Bishleshon," "Ausomapto Atmojiboni Path Bishleshon," and "Amar Dekha Noya Chin Path Bishleshon," edited by poet Mohammad Nurul Huda and a research based book on Zila Sahitya Mela-2022 (first part).
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's youngest daughter and PM's younger sister Sheikh Rehana was present on the occasion.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs K M Khalid, MP, spoke on the occasion as the special guest. Cultural Affairs Secretary Md. Abul Monsur addressed the function.
Bangla Academy President Selina Hossain presided over the inaugural function while Director General Mohammad Nurul Huda delivered the address of welcome. President of Academic and Creative Publishers Association of Bangladesh Arif Hossain Chhoton also spoke on the occasion.
Besides, the premier distributed prizes among 15 recipients of the Bangla Academy Literary Award-2022.
The book fair will remain open for all from 3 pm to 9 pm on working days and from 11:00 am to 9 pm on public holidays with a one-hour break for lunch and prayers.
Stressing the need for reaching the Bangla language and literature to the global people, Sheikh Hasina asked all concerned to translate Bangla literature into various languages and make digital versions of books to attract all types of readers in a larger volume.
"If we want to reach out to global readers, we need to translate our literary works," she said, adding that Bangla Academy and International Mother Language Institute can jointly work on it.
The Premier asked the Bangla Academy to take the initiatives to host an international fair on its premises saying that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman once arranged an international literature fair here in Bangladesh.
She thanked the Bangla Academy for arranging book fairs at the district level, asking them to reach out to the upazila level alongside the cultural and sports programmes.
"If we engage our young generation in literary, cultural and sports programmes, they will keep themselves away from drug, terrorism and militancy that will help to lead the normal life and flourish their talents," she said.