Hiren Pandit: The slogan of Awami League’s 2008 manifesto was ‘Charter for Change’, 2014 ‘Bangladesh is moving forward’, and 2018 manifesto was ‘Bangladesh on Prosperity and Progress’. It contained 21 special pledges.
Bangladesh Awami League has announced the manifesto ahead of the 12th national parliament election. The slogan of this year’s manifesto is ‘Smart Bangladesh: Development Shines and Accelerating Employment’. The ruling party has prioritized 11 issues by promising to build a smart Bangladesh. Creation of employment, keeping the price of goods within the purchasing power, establishing consistency between incomes, keeping the youth and youth society involved in the transformation and development of the country, taking measures against capital smugglers, eliminating bribery and corruption, bringing debt-tax-evasion and confiscating the illegal assets of the corrupt.
The party promised apart from this, agriculture, service, economic, and industrial production sectors, ensuring the fundamental rights of the third gender people have also been given importance. Awami League president Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the manifesto on December 27. The Awami League president presented the top priority part of the election manifesto published in booklet form.
Regarding the transition from digital to smart Bangladesh in the manifesto, she said that technological capability is necessary to survive in the world competition in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. For this reason, it is announced to build ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by combining the four pillars of ‘Smart Citizen’, ‘Smart Government’, ‘Smart Economy’ and ‘Smart Society’. Implementation of Smart Bangladesh mentions work in each area. It has been promised to make Bangladesh a hunger-poverty-free Smart Sonar Bangla by 2041 if elected by the people.
The 11 issues that the Awami League has given special priority in the manifesto are to make every effort to keep the price of essential commodities affordable for everyone; Ensure vocational education and youth employment; Build smart Bangladesh based on modern technology; Increase investment in integrated farming systems, mechanization and processing for profitable agriculture; Expanding industries by leveraging visible infrastructure and increasing investment; Increasing efficiency and capacity in the financial sector including banking.
Making health care affordable to low-income people; Inclusion of all in the universal pension scheme; Ensuring the effectiveness and accountability of law enforcement; Preventing communalism and all forms of terrorism and militancy and promoting the protection and practice of democratic systems at all levels.
Accountability of state management will be ensured: Referring to Awami League’s constant efforts to ensure people’s basic and democratic rights, Sheikh Hasina said that an effective parliament can only protect people’s interests through elections in democratic governance. It has been said to strengthen the practice of transparency, accountability, good governance and democratic values in all aspects of state management after being elected and forming the government.
Equality, freedom and justice will be ensured: Awami League president said, our goal is to establish Bangladesh free from exploitation by eliminating social inequality. Where the rule of law, fundamental human rights, political, economic and social equality, freedom and justice will be ensured. The independence and dignity of the judiciary will be preserved.
Measures to ensure the independence and effectiveness of the National Human Rights Commission will continue. 10th Wage Board for Journalists: Mentioning that mass media has developed greatly in 15 years, the Prime Minister said that arrangements will be made so that journalists do not face torture, intimidation and false cases.
Privacy and data of individuals will be protected as per the Cyber Security Act, 2023 and appropriate measures will continue to be taken to prevent misuse. She also mentioned that the process of forming the 10th Wage Board for journalists is ongoing. She said financial and medical assistance to journalists will be further extended under the Journalist Welfare Trust. There will be an effort to build a corruption-free administrative system: Efforts to build an efficient, enterprising, IT-dependent, corruption-free, patriotic and public-welfare-oriented administrative system through merit-based recruitment will continue, Sheikh Hasina said.
She said that the government has always worked towards the formation of an advanced, humane and people-friendly law and order force based on information technology. As a result, the capacity of the law enforcement agencies has increased manifold. Smart Bangladesh promises to make the law enforcement force smart and modern. Zero-tolerance policy against corruption: Sheikh Hasina said that the Awami League has adopted a zero-tolerance policy against corruption and is working to eradicate corruption from society through coordinated initiatives with the people.
To inculcate an anti-corruption attitude among the students, chapters on the evils of corruption and what to do to prevent corruption will be added to the curriculum. The supremacy of the constitution in the governance of the state, the establishment of the rule of law, and the formation of a society free from terrorism will be ensured. Digital Land Management: The government is continuously striving for effective solutions to land-related issues through administrative reforms and the application of digital technology. 100% e-enrolment has been ensured from 1 July 2019 in 61 districts except 3 hill districts.
Market Management and Inflation: Awami League announced in its manifesto that a correlation between market prices and income will be established. For products whose markets are dependent on domestic production and suppliers, there will be maximum efforts to establish fair prices and reach consumers at fair prices. Enforcement of strict laws on recovery of delinquent loans: Loan provision for self-employment of employable trained youth will be expanded. Import and export trade will be balanced, which will reduce uncertainty in the supply of foreign exchange.
It will be ensured that strict laws are enforced in the recovery of defaulted loans and that the banks keep the prescribed reserve in this regard. Continue the importance of the private sector in economic development and use opportunities for public and private sector co-investment where reasonable. Illegitimate assets of corrupt persons will be confiscated: establishment of order in the financial sector and suppression of crime, effective measures will be taken against money launderers; Eradication of bribery and corruption at all levels of the state and society, prevention of unearned income, debt-tax-evasion and punishment of corrupt persons through judicial system and confiscation of their illegal money and property; If elected by the people, the poverty rate will be reduced to 11 percent, extreme poverty will end and the poverty rate will be reduced to 3 percent by 2041.
Village Self-Employment: If elected, modernize every village by providing improved roads, communications, clean water, modern health care and medical treatment, quality education, improved sewage and waste management, increased electricity and fuel supply, computer and high-speed internet facilities, expanding markets for quality consumer goods including electrical appliances. All city amenities will continue to be ensured. Agricultural Subsidies to Continue: The government will continue to provide support and subsidies for agriculture as well as investment support in agricultural inputs to increase agricultural production. Usable agricultural machinery will be made readily available and accessible. Subsidy on agricultural machinery will continue.
Commercial establishment of dairy, poultry and fish farms, promotion of self-employment and poverty alleviation will be provided with necessary subsidies, technical advice and policy support. Rent-based power plants will be closed: The commitments made in the manifesto for the development of the power and energy sector are to ensure uninterrupted and quality power and energy supply; A long-term plan to increase power generation capacity to 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041 will be implemented.
Phased retirement of rental and inefficient power plants; 10,000 megawatts of electricity will be produced from clean energy. 12 expressways will be constructed: and the development of waterways, roads, railways, and aviation will continue. A safe communication system will be improved from capital to villages. The work of building well-built and well-managed transport infrastructure will continue. By 2041, 12 expressways will be constructed. Steps will be taken to upgrade all the highways to four lanes in a phased manner. Necessary steps will be taken to enact a road safety law to make roads safer.
Allocation to education will increase: Allocation to the education sector will increase and ensure its effective utilization. The proportion of female teachers in primary and secondary education will continue to increase gradually. Language, higher mathematics and science education will be given more importance at secondary and higher secondary levels. Appropriate laboratories for science education will be extended to the village level. Access to higher education will be extended to the children of the poor and weaker sections.
Unique Health ID of every citizen: Primary health care and free medicine distribution will continue through community clinics. To ensure digital health care, a unique health ID will be issued to every person in the country and automation management will be introduced in hospitals. A universal health system will be introduced with equal opportunities for all. Antibiotic use will be regulated. Empowerment of women, gender equality, increase in economic capacity: Activities to create a supportive environment for women’s development will continue.
Rural women’s social status will be improved and opportunities to participate in labor will be increased. Necessary measures will continue to be taken for greater participation of women in industry and commerce. The effective role of ‘Joita Foundation’ will be expanded in developing women entrepreneurs and businessmen. Promotion of Vocational Education: Rehabilitation and safe housing of street children, establishment of children’s homes for destitute and deprived children and primary and vocational education programs will be implemented and expanded.
Expanding the range of globally accepted activities for autistic children. Inconsistencies in the list of freedom fighters will continue to be removed: If elected, work will continue to remove inconsistencies in the list of freedom fighters and make necessary corrections. Recognition of the contribution of freedom fighters and the welfare measures taken for them will be continued. Voting of persons with disabilities will be encouraged: Opportunities for inclusion of persons with special needs in national capacity building and national action plans will be expanded.
Measures and measures to ensure that children with special needs can learn in an environment suitable for them and to transform government services into disability friendly will continue. Introduction of Geriatric Services in all Government Hospitals: Appropriate steps will be taken to ensure access to digital technology facilities and technological equality for senior citizens and use of advanced and modern information technology for their welfare. Effective steps will be taken to introduce geriatric services in all government hospitals in the country. Formation of the National Commission for Minorities: To protect the interests of minorities, the National Commission for Minorities will be formed and a special protection law for minorities will be enacted.
Necessary steps will continue to be taken to ensure the security of life and livelihood of religious minorities, minorities and backward communities. Climate change: The policies and plans adopted by the government to protect Bangladesh from the effects of climate change and global warming, create a pollution-free environment and protect water resources, will continue to be implemented. Development cooperation with developed countries will continue: The overall development of the country is the primary goal of the government.
So Bangladesh will continue development cooperation with the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Japan, Canada and other developed countries. Cooperation with India will continue in various areas including cross-border communication, transit, energy partnership and equitable water sharing. The government will also continue bilateral trade and security cooperation with India. Bangladesh will expand relations with China, Russia, and South America in terms of development financing.
The government will continue new activities to increase relations with African and South American countries. This will help in market expansion. Efforts will continue to develop closer relations with Australia and countries in the Pacific region. Sheikh Hasina pointed out that Awami League is not a politics of words, it implements what it promises.
Awami League President Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged people to vote by boat again, promising to build a prosperous and smart ‘Golden Bangla’ in the party’s election manifesto. She said, allow Awami League to serve you by voting for the boat brand. You vote for us, we will give you development, peace and prosperity. Awami League has promised to form a public welfare-oriented administration and strengthen democracy in the manifesto announced ahead of the elections.
Highlighting the various developments of the Awami League government in the past years, the three-term Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, I am responsible for all the mistakes and errors in the course of government management in the past 15 years. Success is yours. Look at our mistakes with a forgiving eye. We promise to learn from past mistakes and conduct future operations under your expectations. She said, I have lost my parents, brothers, and relatives and I came into politics only to finish the unfinished work of my father, the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and put a smile on the face of the people of this country.
Only the Awami League can take the country to a new height by facing challenges: Sheikh Hasina said, as long as Allah keeps me alive and healthy, I will not move away from the duty I have accepted. I want to fulfill my father’s dream by working as your servant. Commenting that only the Awami League can take the country to a new height, he said that Bangladesh is standing at a transition period. The country is going to join the ranks of developing countries from the list of least developed countries.
This passage is like an honor on the one hand, but also a huge challenge on the other. The government formed through the January 7 election must have the ability to face this challenge. Only the Awami League can face this challenge and take the country to new heights.
Sheikh Hasina said that all the great achievements of this country, starting from the right to speak the mother tongue, and the independence of the motherland, have come from the hands of the Awami League. By the hands of the Bangladesh Awami League, the bearer of the spirit of the liberation war, Bangladesh will be established as a high-middle-income country by 2031 and a developed-power ‘Golden Bangla’ by 2041.
She said, Awami League is committed to providing better services to the people and establishing good governance by building a citizen-oriented, welfare-efficient, and smart administration. Efforts will continue to build an efficient, enterprising, IT-based and corruption-free patriotic administration through recruitment based on merit. No one could keep the Bengalis in demand: Awami League President Sheikh Hasina announced the manifesto and said that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had said that no one can keep them in demand.
No one could claim the Bengalis. Sheikh Hasina said, that in the election manifesto of 2008, we announced Vision 2021. I announce the election manifesto of Awami League as a certificate of change. After overcoming hundreds of hurdles and winning the 2014 and 2018 parliamentary elections, we have been running the state successfully. In the program, the Prime Minister highlighted the achievements of the government in various sectors including per capita income, GDP and budget size, electricity, infrastructure, education, and health.
This time they are shaking the hammer from abroad as well: Sheikh Hasina said, I will not claim that we have always been 100% successful in running the government despite our sincerity and dedication. However, the Bangladesh Awami League does not believe in the politics of words. What we say, we do. Sheikh Hasina also said that when the elections came, the liberation war, Bangladesh and a circle against development became active by spreading the web of conspiracy.
They enter the field by using tricks or rigging or through the back door to gain power. If not successful, he jumps on the people in the spirit of revenge. Intimidate the general public through arson, burning of vehicles, bombings, vandalism or acts of terrorism. This time was no exception. This time, they are also shaking hands from abroad. The dream of disrupting elections through terrorism will not be fulfilled: Sheikh Hasina further said that they have engaged in terrorist activities since they realized that they will not get the people’s mandate.
In the name of the hartal blockade, the burning of vehicles, killing of people, and uprooting of railway lines are continuing. The charred bodies of the mother and child have deeply shaken everyone’s conscience. Such despicable acts can no longer be tolerated. The Awami League president said that without getting a response from the people, they are damaging lives and property by carrying out these acts of vandalism with mercenary forces.
The people of this country will never let them fulfill their dream of disrupting the elections through terrorism. Calling upon the common people, Sheikh Hasina said, as you resisted them during 2013-16; Let’s resist them together this time. Let’s take this oath in this month of victory so that this anti-freedom, anti-development vulture group can never hurt the country with its poisonous teeth and claws. Minor setbacks cannot hinder our progress: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, today’s Bangladesh is not a poverty-stricken, economically fragile Bangladesh. I can unequivocally say that today’s Bangladesh is a changing Bangladesh. Desperate Bangladesh is moving forward at a fast pace. Small setbacks will not hinder our progress today. We have proved that by facing various challenges including the coronavirus pandemic.
The writer is a columnist and a researcher.