Dhaka : Two former prime ministers, Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, are taking pot-shots at each other over alleged plots to assassinate them in the final campaign lap for Bangladesh’s parliamentary poll, scheduled Dec 29.
The government has categorically denied any security threat to them.
The “conspiracy theory” is being used to whip up voters’ sentiments as the two women politicians criss-cross the country addressing rallies.
Hasina Wednesday accused Zia of staging “a drama” over an alleged plot to throw greanes at her campaign rally, pointing out that the discovery of grenades was made five kilometres away from the venue of the meeting Zia had addressed and two hours after the meeting was over.
“It is not clear why she (Zia) suddenly staged such a drama claiming grenades were meant for her. What does her claim mean? It should be looked into whether she wants to foil or keep off the elections,” Hasina asked at an election rally in Dinajpur in northern Bangladesh.
Zia was quick to respond, saying there was no way she was going to quit the poll. She said the murder plot was meant to force her to quit when she was actually drawing large crowds at rallies and confident of returning to power with two-thirds majority.
Hasina was the target of a plot masterminded by Pakistan’s Interservices Intelligence (ISI) as per media reports last week that quoted an Indian TV network.
Targetted at least thrice in the past, Hasina has told her rallies that she was not afraid of being killed and would continue her campaign.
She called Zia “patron of extremists” for “breeding, nursing and harbouring extremists and killers”.
“My question is whether the patron of extremists was looking for ways to keep off the electoral race in view of strong support for the Awami League,” Hasina was quoted as saying by New Age newspaper.
Inspector general of police Nur Mohammad Wednesday ruled out any threat of organised attack on Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia.
“There is no strong or authentic base of it,” he told an emergency meeting on law and order at the home ministry.
The meeting was convened following the recovery of grenades and arrest of suspected Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh cadres in Chandina of Comilla district after the election rally of Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia at a nearby place Tuesday.
“It is being examined if there has been any link between the possible acts of the arrested militants and the deterioration of law and order at Begum Zia’s rally,” said an official statement referring to Tuesday’s incident in Comilla.