Awami League (AL) President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged the people to vote for her party’s election symbol “boat” to build “smart Bangladesh” as she kicked off formal election campaign of the AL for the 12th national parliamentary election slated for January 7.
“Smart Bangladesh means Smart Government, Smart People, Smart Economy and Smart Society… with these, we will make Bangladesh a modern technology-based Bangladesh that would include sustainable economy, merit-based education, advanced society, righteous Bangladesh and transparent Bangladesh,” she said.
The premier said these while addressing a mammoth rally at Sylhet Government Alia Madrasa Ground organised by local Awami League.
The Awami League president urged all to cast their votes for her party nominated candidates to make them victorious just to serve the common people.
“Will you cast your votes for them? Please raise your hands and promise to me,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina launched the election campaign from Sylhet-1 constituency following the tradition and offering Ziarat at shrines of Hazrat Shahjalal (RA) and Hazrat Shah Paran (RA) here.
Bangabandhu’s younger daughter and the premier’s younger sister Sheikh Rehana accompanied her during the Ziarat and she was also present on the dais in rally.
The Awami League (AL) president alleged that looters, killers, corrupts and embezzlers of orphans’ money are out there to foil the election by burning people alive.
She urged the countrymen to resist arson terrorism and burning people alive.
She said that BNP-Jamaat clique wanted to snatch away lives of people, they will not let people to cast their votes and thwart the polls .
“From where they get such courage…,” she questioned, saying there is a “black-sheep” sitting in London gives order and some people are following the directives here and are playing with fire. If they play with fire, their own hands will be burnt ,” she said.
The chief of ruling AL said that BNP-Jamaat nexus thought that the government would be ousted through arson terrorism .
“They thought that with some incidents of arson attacks the government will be toppled . The thing is not so easy,” she added.
She said that the mass people are getting benefits of the result of Awami League as it is in power.
“Our aim is to build poverty-free developed Golden Bangla and for that purpose I am working relentlessly,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina mentioned that she has nothing to lose, as she has lost everything including her father, mother and brothers.
“My lone younger sister and I lost everything and deprived of my small children from their motherly affection as I had to return home in 1981 Just to fulfil my father’s dream of building the country with the spirit of the Great Liberation War,” she added.
Highlighting different development projects implemented by the government in last 15 years, she said that if AL is voted to power again it will carry out a feasibility study to introduce metro rail in Sylhet.
Steps would be taken to river bank development to prevent flood, install double-track rail line on Dhaka-Sylhet route, construct another bridge beside Keane Bridge, conduct dredging on Kushiara, Manu and other rivers, she said .
Expansion of Sylhet Osmani International Airport and dredging of Surma River after 50 years are going on, The AL Chief said.
On arrival at the dais, both Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana waived national flags to the mammoth gathering . In response, the people also waived their flags.
At the outset, local singers performed traditional songs of Sylhet to welcome Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana.
AL General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, AL nominated candidate for Sylhet- 1 constituency and foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, presidium member Syeda Jebunnesa Huq, Sylhet city corporation mayor Anwaruzzaman Chowdhury, advisory council member Nurul Islam Nahid, joint general secretary and education minister Dr Dipu Moni, organising secretary Shafiul Alam Chowdhury Nadel, and noted actress Tarin Jahan also spoke.
With Sylhet City AL President valiant freedom fighter Masuk Uddin in the chair, its general secretary Professor Zakir Hossain and District AL general secretary Nasir Uddin jointly conducted the rally.
The entire Sylhet region, centring the rally, wore a festive look while the local people as well as leaders and workers of the AL and associate bodies cheered up due to arrival of their party chief ahead of the national polls.
Pinning upon the public rally, which is also formal beginning of election campaign, the entire Sylhet turned into a town of euphoria. The town decorated in festive looks while people of all strata as well as leaders and activists of AL became enthusiastic.
Arrival of Sheikh Hasina, who is also the President of AL, created excitement among the leaders and activists not only in Sylhet but also the entire region.
Although the Premier was scheduled to join the rally 03.00pm, but several thousands of people throng into the rally ground from early morning and within few hours the ground became full to the brim as a good number of people were seen taking position around the ground since early morning.
The crowd then spilled over the surrounding areas, roads and empty places, meaning the town turned into a vast human sea before arrival of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the stage erected in the shape of a boat.
Earlier, from the morning, mass people, women and supporters were seen marching towards the venue in procession chanting slogans “Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu” and holding colourful placards, banners, festoons, wearing colourful T-shirts, caps on heads, head bands, drums, election symbol boat as well as national and party flags.
Women in large and small groups as well as individually waited at the queue in the gate with smiling faces to enter the venue.
Hundred thousands of leaders and followers of Awami League and its associates bodies from different districts of Sylhet Division as well as adjoining districts joined the rally with a fleet of reserve buses, pickups, motorcycles while many were seen joining the rally on foot.