Bangladesh's detained former premier and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina has resolved to contest the upcoming Parliamentary elections if they are held in a "free and fair" manner even as her party on Monday launched a token hunger strike here demanding her release.
"In view of the present context... I must contest and win the next polls if the elections are held in a free and fair manner," Hasina was quoted as saying by her counsel Quamrul Islam on Sunday. <b1>
In an apparent shift from her earlier stance, Hasina has also given a green signal to her party leaders to join a planned dialogue on electoral reforms with the interim government in Emergency-ruled Bangladesh.
"My presence during the dialogue is not a major issue," she told her lawyer as Chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed was expected to announce the date for the crucial talks next week.
She made the comments to her lawyer after hearing on charge framing in a graft case involving purchase of fighter jets for the Air Force during her 1996-2001 tenure.
According to the lawyer, Hasina said a recent signature campaign by the Awami league demanding her release has proved that people are beside her.
She asked Awami League activists to get ready for the Parliamentary elections set for the year-end and remain alert so "the polls are not forestalled on any pretext", he said.
"In just 10 days, 25 lakh people in the capital have signed for my release. It proves that people are with me. So, I will definitely take part in the general election," Hasina told the lawyer.