Monday, October 23, 2017

BNP won in 2001 by promising gas deal, says PM Hasina

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-04-06 15:12:07 BdST


A day prior to her visit to India, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated her belief that Awami League’s defeat in the 2001 national election was due to their refusal to sell gas to neighbouring country.

She made the remarks during an event in the capital on Thursday.

“The BNP came to power in 2001,” said Hasina. “And a very important agreement was behind it– Bangladesh’s natural gas. An American company was to extract the gas and sell it to India.”

The prime minister said then US president Bill Clinton had made the proposal to her himself.

“I said at the time that we do not know how much gas we have. Only a small percentage of the people in our country are receiving the benefit from this gas.

“But the country’s resources are owned by the people and so, I must first meet their needs. After the people’s needs are met I will set aside a 50-year reserve for future generations. If more gas is left over we can consider selling it, but not before.”

The prime minister said she had also reminded the US president of Bangladesh nationalising its gas fields after independence by paying cash to foreign companies, who had leased them during the Pakistan era.

Clinton was the first US president to visit Bangladesh on Mar 20, 2000.

“It is understandable that the president of such a powerful country became upset by the response.

“And the BNP then guaranteed the gas deal if they came to power,” said Hasina.