Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today (Saturday) 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, amid tight security.
The main theme of this year's council is 'Unnoyon Abhijatrai Deshratna Sheikh Hasinar Netritte Bangabandhur Swapner Unnoto, Samridho O Smart Bangladesh Gorar Protoye'.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, MP, will place the report of the general secretary while AL Presidium Member and reception committee convener Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim,MP, is expected to deliver the address of welcome.
Barrister Biplab Barua will place the obituary references.
Around 7,000 each councilors and delegates and thousands of the AL 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 in the auditorium of Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB). Party's president and general secretary will be elected in the session.
A total of 11 sub-committees are working for the council. As per the 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 AL has not invited any representatives of foreign political parties to the inaugural session of the council, butl invited leaders of other political parties in the country, including the BNP and 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 the 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 Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman while Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani were president of the party four times.
Bangabandhu was AL general secretary five times, Tajuddin Ahmed four times, Zillur Rahman and Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury were AL general secretaries three times.
As part of maintaining austerity in view of the global economic crisis, the council is being arranged in a simple manner.
Previous councils were held in two days but this time council is being held on a single day to minimize costs.
The 21st council of the party was held on December 20-21. The budget of the last council was Taka 3.43 crore. The national committee of the party has approved Taka 3.13 crore for this 22nd national council.