The ruling Awami League formally began its campaign for the general election slated for December this year through party chief Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Sylhet on Tuesday.
A Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight carrying the prime minister landed at MAG Osmani International Airport at 10:50am.
On her arrival in the district, Hasina offered prayers at the shrines of Hazrat Shahjalal, Hazrat Shah Paran and Hazrat Gazi Borhan Uddin.
She was accompanied by Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Awami League General Secretary and Minister for Road Transport and Bridges Division Obaidul Quader, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, and other senior leaders of the party.
Addressing a public rally on the Government Alia Madrasha ground later in the day, Awami League president Hasina called upon the people to vote for her party’s “Boat” electoral symbol to keep up the pace of development across the country.
She also inaugurated and laid the foundation stones of 35 development projects, which Awami League leaders see as “gifts” from the prime minister for the district’s people ahead of the polls.
The development projects include a fertilizer testing and research laboratory, a divisional and district NSI office building, a 12-storey Nagar Bhaban of Sylhet City Corporation, and the extension of several roads and highways.
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The Awami League leadership views 2018 as crucial for the party and also for Bangladesh, as the 11th parliamentary polls and elections to five city corporations across the country are scheduled to be held.
In an effort to garner public support in favour of Awami League, Hasina will visit the city corporations and several districts, where she will urge people to vote for the continuation of the party’s development initiatives.
“The prime minister will visit several districts where she has not been able to visit in her last nine years in office,” the party’s joint general secretary, Abdur Rahman, told the Dhaka Tribune.
“She will apprise people in the districts of development projects taken by the Awami League-led government and make them aware of the BNP-Jamaat alliance and its destructive activities.”
The party’s office secretary and prime ministerial special assistant, Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap, said the Awami League leadership is “very much optimistic” about the party’s chances of winning the polls to lead the country for a third consecutive term.
“Through her visit to Sylhet, our party chief has officially started Awami League’s electoral campaign for the next general elections,” he said. “Now, we are making moves in order to mobilize public support, and our campaign will continue until the last minute.”
He added that their party would form eight teams this week according to the party chief’s directives, and devise a plan to tour its 78 organizational districts.
AL Organising Secretary AKM Enamul Haque Shamim said the Awami League leadership began reinforcing the party at the grassroots level soon after the most recent parliamentary polls, held in January 2014.
“As our campaign has formally been launched, the prime minister will now visit across the country until the election,” he said.