Prime Minister and governing Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina on Monday called upon the people to cast their votes for 'boat' in the forthcoming national election to give her party the opportunity to serve them again.
"It's my call to you (the country's people) to give us the opportunity to serve you again by casting your vote for boat (AL's electoral symbol)," she said, addressing a grand rally as chief guest, organised by Khulna city and district AL at Khulna circuit house ground.
Sheikh Hasina said 'boat' has given independence, boat has given development, Bangladesh has attained the status of developing nation as you have voted for boat, and this vote will give the smart Bangladesh of 2041."
In the smart Bangladesh, she said, the population of the country will be smart and they will have a smart government, smart economy and smart society.
"Bangladesh will be smart, developed, prosperous, modern knowledge-based Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman," she added.
To attain this, the prime minister laid emphasis on the continuation of democratic trend that the country has been witnessing since 2009.
"As the continuation of democratic trend is prevailing in the country, the development of Bangladesh is visible," she added.
Terming BNP as the "headless party", the AL president said they just want to create an abnormal situation in the country to foil the election.
She added, "They know that they don't have any leadership. They're just a party without any head. One is absconding and another is in jail. That party doesn't want any election in the country, rather they just want to create an abnormal situation in the country."
"BNP-Jamaat knows that in the 2008 elections they got only 30 seats," she continued.
She mentioned that the next election will be held on time and all have to remain vigilant during the election time.
Sheikh Hasina said if anyone wants to set fire to any vehicle and burn people alive, then those hands have to be burnt in that fire.
"Teach them a good lesson so no one dares to cause any harm to anyone in the country. That kind of incident must not happen again," she said.
The AL chief asked her party men and members of AL's associate bodies to give protection to the people of the country together with the law enforcing agencies.
She said whenever the Awami League comes into power, the country and its people witness development and progress.
"It is very much regretful that BNP means the terror activities. The only task of BNP and Jamaat is to kill people through arson attacks," she said.
In this connection, the prime minister mentioned the incidents of 28 October when BNP and Jamaat terrorists allegedly killed a policeman by beating him.
She said that “BNP-Jamaat terrorists” injured 45 policemen and attacked journalists who went there to cover their programmes.
"They attacked hospitals like the Israeli forces in Gaza. They also vandalised ambulances. I don't think that they have a little bit of humanity," she said, adding, the “only quality of BNP-Jamaat is killing people”.
She further said that the government has already declared to award Taka 20,000 for nabbing any arson terrorist and handing them to the law enforcing agencies.
"We will not spare anyone involved in killing people through arson attacks," she said.
Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, MP, Sheikh Helal Uddin, MP, Sheikh Salauddin Jewel, MP, and Sheikh Sharhan Naser Tonmoy, MP, also spoke.
Khulna city AL president and Khulna City Corporation (KCC) mayor Talukder Abdul Khaleque chaired the rally.
In Khulna, Sheikh Hasina previously addressed a rally five years back on 3 March, 2018.
Before joining the rally, the prime minister joined a meeting to exchange views with the officials of different government offices in Khulna division.
Khulna town was decorated with banners, festoons, billboards and posters welcoming Sheikh Hasina. Colourful arches and gates were constructed on various roads of the town with the posters and banners of the prime minister.
Although the prime minister was scheduled to join the rally at 3:00 pm, hundreds of thousands of people throng the rally ground from early morning and within a few hours the ground was full to the brim.
The crowd then spilled over the surrounding areas, roads and empty places, before the arrival of prime minister Sheikh Hasina on the stage, which was made in the shape of a boat and Padma Bridge.
Earlier from the morning, mass people, women and supporters were seen marching towards the venue in processions chanting slogans "Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu" and holding colourful placards, banners, festoons, wearing colourful T-shirts, cap 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 in the queue in the gate with smiling faces to enter the venue.
Hundreds of thousands of leaders and followers of Awami League and its associate bodies from different districts of Khulna Division joined the rally in fleets of reserve buses, pickups, motorcycles while many were seen joining the rally on foot.
Regarding the agitation of readymade garment (RMG) workers, the prime minister said that considering inflation, the salary of government employees has been increased by only 5 per cent, but the wage of garment workers has been increased by 56 per cent.
Sheikh Hasina said after assuming power in 1996 she found that the wage of RMG workers was only Taka 800 (per month) and then she increased it to Taka 1,600. But during the regime of BNP, Begum Khaleda Zia didn't hike their wage by a single penny, she added.
"Not Zia, Ershad or Khaleda Zia, it is the Awami League that has hiked their wage," she added.
She said that the minimum wage of RMG workers has been fixed at Taka 12,500 now. She referred to her government's efforts when they increased to Taka 1600 from Taka 800, then to Taka 3,200 from Taka 1,600, Taka 5,200 from 3,200 and Taka 8,200 from Taka 5,200.
"Although the RMG sector is a private sector, the government has hiked their wage through discussion with the owners," she added.
The prime minister asked where their (RMG workers) objection was. "Some 19 factories were destroyed. Who is involved in this destruction? Who is among them? It is necessary to find out and see," she added.
Regarding the introduction of the Universal Pension Scheme, the head of government urged all to avail the pension scheme, saying it is a protection for all.