Prime Minister and Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said the leaders and activists of her party will march ahead in unison by confronting all the conspiracies and hurdles and build a prosperous, developed and smart Bangladesh by 2041.
“Attacks and conspiracies will come. But we want the leaders and activists of the Awami League to step forward together facing the conspiracies,” she said while inaugurating the 22nd national council of one of the sub-continent's largest political parties, Bangladesh Awami League, according to BSS.
The prime minister said Bangladesh will never fall behind and her party will fulfil the dream of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by bringing smiles to the faces of the distressed people by transforming the country into a developed, prosperous and smart Bangladesh by 2041.
Referring to various measures taken by her government, including enactment of the new law to appoint a chief election commissioner and commissioners for the election commission, she once again assured all of holding the next general election in a free and fair manner.
“If we have any intention of stealing the votes of the people then we would have formed an Aziz-style election commission as Khaleda Zia did. But we did not do that as we have confidence and trust in the people,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said they have established voting rights in the country after stopping the previous election culture of snatching votes by appointing hoodlums with motorcycles.
“Awami League has introduced a slogan “my vote, my choice” and it is the lone party which has ensured the voting right of the people which is their democratic and constitutional rights,” she said.
She said Khaleda Zia had prepared a voter list with 1.23 crore fake voters aimed at manipulating the election.
The Awami League president reminded the people that her party had proposed to prepare a voter list with photographs to stop casting fake votes, introduce transparent ballot boxes so that none can fill the boxes prior to the beginning of voting, and then the caretaker government had implemented those proposals.
The prime minister said her government has made the Election Commission completely independent by giving budgetary allocation to the commission directly which was earlier entrusted with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and enacted a law to appoint an election commission through forming a search committee by the President of Bangladesh.
“We don’t make any intervention in forming the election commission,” she said.
She said that they have given voter ID cards and introduced EVMs in some cases, adding that they know nothing about whether there is any scope to manipulate votes through the machines.
The premier reminded all that the people did not accept vote rigging, referring to toppling the Khaleda Zia government after it assumed power through a farcical election in February in 1996, in which no political parties took part and people refrained from voting.
“The people of the country never accept vote rigging. So, Khaleda Zia had to leave power within one and half months on March 30, 1996, amid the mass upsurge,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said her party had come to power through June 12, 1996 general election after 21 years and did a commendable job in taking Bangladesh to a dignified position by making the country self-sufficient in food production, increasing power generation alongside literacy rate, making huge infrastructure development, and building Bangabandhu Bridge over the Jamuna River.
The prime minister said they did not come to power in 2001 due to conspiracies, adding that she earlier mentioned the cause time and again in detain.
Earlier in several programmes, she said her party did not come to power in 2001 as she declined to sell gas to any country with a reserve of 50 years for Bangladesh.
“I will not let a simple interest of Bangladesh go to the hands of anyone until my death, It was my promise and it might be the cause of not returning to power. But, I have no regrets,” she said.
She opened the council by hoisting the national flag and releasing pigeons and balloons at 10.30am at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan, amid tight security.
On her arrival at the venue, Sheikh Hasina, also president of the AL, was received by the party's senior leaders.
The main theme of this year's council is “Development journey under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina with determination to build a developed, prosperous Smart Bangladesh of Bangabandhu’s dream”.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, MP, addressed the conference while AL Presidium Member while the reception committee convener Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, MP, delivered the address of welcome.
AL’s Publicity and Publication Secretary Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap, MP, and his deputy M Aminul Islam moderated the programme while Office Secretary Barrister Biplab Barua placed the obituary references.
A one-minute silence was observed to show respect to the martyrs of the Liberation War, August 15 and November 3 of 1975, August 21, 2004 and all the democratic and progressive movement
The party’s council started with a colourful cultural programme portraying the history of the Bangalees, Bangladesh and the Awami League.
The AL did not invite any representatives of foreign political parties to the inaugural session of the council, but it invited leaders of other political parties in the country, including the BNP and Jatiya Party.
Some of the foreign envoys stationed in Dhaka alongside eminent personalities of the country, speaker of the parliament, ministers, members of parliament, and representatives from various political parties including the 14-party alliance and Jatiya Party were present.
Around 7,000 councillors and delegates and thousands of leaders and workers of the AL and its front and associate organisations thronged the venue.
The party's manifesto for the election was focused on "Smart Bangladesh" by 2041 in the council.
The venue and adjoining areas were decorated with the images of some achievements of the government, including Padma Bridge, metro rail, and Bangabandhu satellite and pictures and portraits of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and their family members.
The party was initially floated as the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League at the historic Rose Garden in Dhaka on June 23 in 1949, but the word "Muslim" was dropped during its third council in 1955 to make the party more inclusive and secular.
Sheikh Hasina has been the party president nine times while Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman while Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani were president of the party four times.
Bangabandhu was AL general secretary five times, Tajuddin Ahmed four times, Zillur Rahman and Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury were AL general secretaries three times.
Then the council session was held in the auditorium of Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB). Party's president and general secretary will be elected in the session.