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DHAKA: Bangladesh Awami League, the party which waged the Bengali nationalist movement nearly seven decades ago and subsequently steered the country’s 1971 Liberation War, is staging its two-day 20th National Council at the Suhrawardy Udyan.
The first day programmes of the council is underway at the historic Udyan as Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the crucial event at 10.10am raising the national flag when party leaders and activists and the guests joined in chorus in singing the national anthem.
Sheikh Hasina along with party General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam released pigeons and balloons to mark the opening of the council in a colourful manner at Suhrawardy Udyan, the site of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s landmark 7th March address and surrender of Pakistani troops in 1971.
Presidents and general secretaries of 64 district units of the party raised the party flags simultaneously soon after the premier hoisted the national standard.
A group of artistes sang a theme song along with dance wearing traditional sarees and using traditional musical instruments.
The prime minister entered the blissfully decorated venue of the council at 10.05am amidst ecstatic slogans of the thousands of delegates and councilors congregated from across the country.
The council venue wore a festive look with crowds of onlookers and organizers to witness the council while in the evening it was illuminated gorgeously and decorated with banners and festoons. The main stage has been installed in the shape of a “boat”, Awami League’s election symbol.
“Bangladesh is speeding fast in super development highway – now is the time to hold our head high,” is the theme of the 20th council of the party which saw eight presidents since its founding in 1949 with Sheikh Hasina being its longest serving chief.
The formal inauguration was followed by an attractive cultural show presented by the country’s leading artistes.
After the inauguration, scriptures from holy books of different religions were recited. Earlier, Convener of Reception Committee for the council Mohammed Nasim greeted councilors and delegates came from across the country to join it.
The main function started with obituary reference read out by AL office secretary Advocate Abdul Mannan Khan. Party General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam presented his report while AL leaders Dr Hasan Mahmud and Asim Kumar Ukil conducted the function.
Over 55 guests from 10 countries including India, Russia, China, UK, Canada, Australia, Italia and Sri Lanka joined the council. Several representatives of political parties from the foreign countries also addressed the inaugural session.
Some 6,500 councilors from across the country are taking part in the council while the main council session will be held on October 23 at Institution of Engineers a day after it’s opening at the Suhrawardy Udyan.
The council will be entrusted with the task of electing the party’s highest policymaking new working committee while a three-member election commission with prime minister’s adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman, Advocate Yusuf Hossain Humayun and former secretary to the government Rashidul Alam being its members was constituted by now.
Leaders of different other political parties, envoys of foreign countries and civil society figures also joined the opening of the council.
The capital Dhaka and major cities and towns were illuminated while digital display boards were installed highlighting the Awami League-led government’s achievements were installed at parts of the city while decorative gates were erected at major thoroughfares important thoroughfares of the city.
A stringent security vigil is being enforced in the capital coinciding with the council while party volunteers are mobilized to ensure discipline and security in and around the council venue.
The council is being live streamed from the verified page of the party, opening up an opportunity for the party leaders, activists and others to get connected online with Suhrawardi Uddyan.
This coverage will be continuing round the clock till the closing session in the next day while the Center for Research and Information (CRI), research wing of the party, is looking after the entire supervision of the coverage.
Four makeshift stalls were installed illustrating various struggles of the party, “Bangabandhu and Sheikh Hasina”- Sheikh Hasina’s movement for peoples right for vote and food (1981 to 1996), Bangabandhu in photos, Speech of 7th March and Journey of Bangladesh Awami League (1949-2008).
The Awami League’s party constitution stipulates that the council session is held every three years.
The last council was held on December 29, 2012 when Sheikh Hasina was chosen President and Syed Ashraf General Secretary. Syed Ashraful Islam was unopposed elected general secretary. On 23 June 1949, Bengali nationalists from East Bengal broke away from the Muslim League, Pakistan’s dominant political party, and established the Awami Muslim League. The party was founded at the Rose Garden mansion in the old part of Dhaka where Maulana Bhashani and Shamsul Huq were elected its first president and general secretary.