Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stated that she had refused to sell gas to India through US-based companies back in 2000 which, in turn, cost Awami League the 2001 election.
The Premier reiterated this statement on Saturday while addressing a function marking the 31th founding anniversary of SSF at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
“US President Bill Clinton, just like former president Jimmy Carter, asked me to sell our gas to India through US-based companies. But I refused his suggestion for Bangladesh’s sake. This, however, cost us the 2001 election,” said the Premier.
Hasina had said many times before that an ‘international conspiracy’ to gain control over Bangladesh’s natural gas led to her party’s defeat in the 2001 elections.
Earlier this year, Hasina blamed a collusion by the US and India behind the polls defeat.
“American companies invest here to explore gas and they want to sell it to India. But I was not in favour of exporting gas,” she said on Saturday.
“My priority was to know how much gas we have because I must first meet my country’s need. A 50-year reserve has to be set aside. If more gas is left over, we can consider selling it, but not before that.”
“I had repeatedly asked them for a survey to find the reserves, but they did not do so. It was suspicious. It means that there is not much gas. Why were they so adamant to sell it then?”
Hasina further said former US president Jimmy Carter came to Bangladesh in 2001 and that she was invited to lunch with Carter, hosted by Chief Adviser Rahman.
Hasina said she and the party’s General Secretary Zillur Rahman joined the event and the BNP was represented by its chief Khaleda Zia and Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan.
“The issue was raised during our meeting with former US president Jimmy Carter,” Hasina said.
Hasina said she had already cleared her stance on the issue during talks with President Clinton both in Dhaka and Washington.
She said they had left after the meeting but Khaleda stayed put and that “they had then reached an agreement.”
When she took office for the third time in 2009, Hasina claimed that Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus used his connections with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to block World Bank funding for Padma Bridge.
Hasina had previously said the US had ‘threatened’ her after Yunus was removed from Grameen Bank.
Yunus was removed from Grameen Bank on the grounds that he had crossed the official retirement age in 2011.
PM Hasina also raised the Padma Bridge project issue on Saturday.
“They had raised corruption allegations against me, my cabinet and my family members, the Canadian court found no proof of corruption.”