Jessore rolls out the red carpet for PM Hasina

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressed a public meeting in this stadium on December 26, 1972

Jessore, one of the oldest cities in the country, is ready to receive Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday as she is set to attend the first massive political rally of the ruling party outside Dhaka in the lead up to the next general election.

People of Jessore and southern parts of the country are enthusiastic about attending the grand rally, as this will be Sheikh Hasina's first visit to the city in almost five years.

The Jessore rally, to be held at the Shamsul Huda Stadium, marks the official start of Awami League's election campaign. Subsequently, Sheikh Hasina will attend a party rally at the Polo Ground in Chittagong on December 4, before attending another rally at the Sheikh Kamal Cricket Stadium in Cox's Bazar on December 7, according to the Prime Minister's Office.

Ruling party leaders and activists of Jessore have worked tirelessly under the leadership of party leader and MP Sheikh Helaluddin Ahmed to arrange and ensure the success of the first rally. 

Awami League Presidium members Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman, Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim, Organizing Secretary BM Mozammel Hoque, and MP of Bagerhat-2 Sheikh Sarhan Naser Tonmoy have been closely monitoring the rally's preparations.

Local lawmaker Kazi Nabil Ahmed MP and Jessore district Awami League leaders have tried their best to ensure a festive atmosphere amid the tight security.

Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader and other senior leaders reached Jessore on Wednesday evening to receive Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

A red carpet has been laid from the spot the premier will enter the city all the way to the stairs she will walk up to get to the stage, said Jessore Awami League Vice President Abdul Majeed, who is in charge of preparing the stage.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is coming to Jessore Stadium tomorrow (Thursday), 50 years after Bangabandhu's speech at that very place. That is why the people of Jessore, as well as the entire southwest region are eager to welcome her,” Majeed added, mentioning the stage's back screen and chairs would be installed shortly. The back screen of the prime minister's public meeting has been prepared by art students of the Fine Arts Institute.

Talking to reporters while visiting the venue yesterday afternoon, Nanak said: “The Awami League's rally at Jessore Shamsul Huda Stadium [on Thursday] is not a counter against any political party. We have undertaken this program as we are moving towards the election,” he said.

“The 2024 election is as important to the countrymen as it is to the Awami League. Jessore's Shamsul Huda Stadium will hold the biggest public rally in the history of the Awami League,” the AL leader further said.

Regarding the party's preparations for the rally, he said: “This rally will not be confined to the stadium. The entire city of Jessore will turn into a public meeting place. This public meeting is very important for the Awami League as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will appear directly in front of the people after about 27 months. We are expecting a million people at this rally.”

Abdur Rahman, another Presidium member of the Awami League, said: “Sheikh Hasina's election rally is starting from Jessore with the upcoming general election in mind.”

Other central Awami League leaders said Jessore has now become a beacon of development under the tenure of the AL government whereas it used be hub of militancy, and they hoped the people of the region would rally against the evil forces of BNP and Jamaat, as well as any militants who remain active.

Leaders and activists of AL and its associate bodies are in the final stages of preparations and regularly conducting microphone announcements to raise awareness of the rally and public meeting.

Colourful arches and gates have been constructed on various roads of Jessore, with posters and banners welcoming the prime minister. The AL leaders have hung banners, balloons, festoons and posters at Daratana More, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Garibshah Road, and other areas.

Kazi Nabil Ahmed told this correspondent: “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressed a public meeting on December 26, 1972, in this stadium. His elder daughter Sheikh Hasina will address a public meeting at the same field after 50 years. A public meeting stage is being built there in the shape of a boat.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave a lot to the people of Jessore, now the people of Jessore are waiting to give their welcome feedback to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina."

While talking with Dhaka Tribune Wednesday afternoon, MP Sheikh Tonmoy said: “It's a matter of great pride and excitement that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to start her political rally from Jessore. the people of the southern region are waiting to receive her.”

Five years ago, Sheikh Hasina addressed an election rally at the Jessore Eidgah ground on December 31, 2017.

The premier will arrive in Jessore on Thursday morning to attend a number of programs.

During the visit, the AL president will attend the President Parade at Bangladesh Air Force Academy. Sheikh Hasina will also take a salute at the passing out parade at the BAF Academy.

In the afternoon, the Awami League president will address a public rally organized by the district unit Awami League at Jessore district stadium.