Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday asked party leaders and activists to remain united in order to resist conspiracies and advance the country towards prosperity.
“There will be blows and conspiracies, but AL leaders and activists will remain united and move forward facing adversity,” she said during her inaugural speech at the 22nd national council of the country’s oldest political party — aiming to elect new leadership.
Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the council by hoisting the national flag at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan.
The theme of this year’s council is “Development journey under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina with the determination to build a developed, prosperous, and smart Bangladesh of Bangabandhu’s dream”.
Reiterating that Bangladesh will never move back, Sheikh Hasina said, “InshAllah we will materialize the dreams of the Father of the Nation.”
She said that the economy is heading in the right direction.
“Only AL can advance a country and develop it,” she added.
The PM mentioned that evil forces are engaged in hatching conspiracies against the country to derail it from the path of development and prosperity.
“No matter how many conspiracies the evil forces hatch against us, the nation will move forward, and we will fulfill the dreams of the Father of the Nation,” she said.
‘Stop provoking Russia-Ukraine war’
Sheikh Hasina made a call to world leaders not to provoke the Ukraine-Russia war and end it immediately.
“I will urge the world leaders — stop the Ukraine-Russia war, stop provoking them. We want peace,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said that all countries are independent and all have the right to act independently.
Saying that Bangladesh does not want war, she added that the country also does not want sanctions. “We do not want war; we do not want sanctions… war causes suffering for humanity.”
In this regard, she recalled the experience during the Liberation War in 1971. “We know the adversity of war; we experienced that in 1971.”
Sheikh Hasina mentioned that women are affected the most during wars and children are also negatively impacted.
The prime minister said that Bangladesh was just coming out from the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. “This war is just demolishing all our advancements,” she added.
22nd AL national council
Earlier the same day, Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the 22nd national council of one of the sub-continent’s largest political parties, Bangladesh Awami League.
She opened the council by hoisting the national flag and releasing pigeons and balloons at 10:30am at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka amid tight security.
On her arrival at the venue, Sheikh Hasina, also president of the Awami League, was received by the party’s senior leaders.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader placed the report of the general secretary while Awami League Presidium member and reception committee convener Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim delivered the address of welcome.
Around 7,000 councillors and delegates and thousands of the Awami League leaders and activists thronged the venue.
There will be a break for lunch and prayers after the end of the inaugural session. Then the council session will be held at the auditorium of the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB). The party’s president and general secretary will be elected in the session.
A three-member election commission has already been formed to elect the leadership.
A total of 11 sub-committees are working for the council. As per tradition, party President Sheikh Hasina is chairman of the council preparatory committee and General Secretary Obaidul Quader is its member secretary.
The stage was made in the shape of a boat along with Padma Bridge which is 80 feet long and 44 feet wide.
Besides, LED monitors are put in the council venue.
The party’s manifesto for the election will focus on “smart Bangladesh” by 2041.
The Awami League has not invited any representatives of foreign political parties to the inaugural session of the council, but invited leaders of other political parties in the country, including the BNP and the Jatiya Party.
Foreign envoys stationed in Dhaka were invited alongside eminent personalities of the country, ministers, and lawmakers.
The venue and adjoining areas have been decorated with 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, 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 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani were the president of the party four times.
Bangabandhu was the Awami League general secretary five times, Tajuddin Ahmad four times, and Zillur Rahman and Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury were general secretaries three times each.
As part of maintaining austerity in view of the global economic crisis, the council has been arranged in a simple manner.
Previous councils were held in two days but this time council is being held on a single day to minimise costs.
The budget of the last council was Tk 3.43 crore. The national committee of the party has approved Tk 3.13 crore for the 22nd national council.