Tuesday, May 21, 2024

‘JS for change’ set in motion

President draws govt attention to food prices, anti-graft fight, trial of war criminals
Staff Correspondent

MPs pray for the salvation of the departed and the nations wellbeing during the first day of the inaugural session of the ninth parliament yesterday. Photo: PID
MPs pray for the salvation of the departed and the nation's wellbeing during the first day of the inaugural session of the ninth parliament yesterday. Photo: PID

President Iajuddin Ahmed yesterday termed the new Jatiya Sangsad a “parliament for change” and said poverty alleviation, elimination of corruption and terrorism, trial of war criminals and establishment of good governance would be the main objectives of the newly elected government.
“No hurdle is insurmountable for a nation, which has achieved freedom through struggle and a prolonged war of independence,” the president said in his speech in the inaugural session of the ninth parliament that began journey over two years later amid high expectations for changes.
In the inaugural session, newly elected Speaker advocate Abdul Hamid, his immediate predecessor Jamiruddin Sircar and a number of lawmakers emphasised the need for making parliament the focal point of all activities for the people’s welfare.
Lawmakers of the main opposition BNP participated in the House proceedings from the beginning under Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia, but they walked out of the parliament before the presidential address.
They said they were not interested in listening to the address of a president who violated the constitution by failing to hold the general election in 90 days even after assuming the office of the chief adviser to the caretaker government.
It was the BNP-led four-party alliance that had nominated Iajuddin for presidency during the eighth parliament.
In his address, President Iajuddin said the present parliament is formed through a free, fair and neutral election.
In the December 29 parliamentary election, the Awami League-led grand alliance won a landslide victory with an electoral pledge for changes.
Political observers said people expressed their confidence in the AL’s electoral manifesto, in which the ruling party also promised to present people a better life mitigating their sufferings caused mainly by skyrocketing prices of essentials.
As the people gave landslide mandate to the AL, the immediate past ruling party BNP faced a debacle in the elections and won only 29 seats.
“Through this election, the people have vested many important responsibilities in the new government. The people’s expectation from the government is almost boundless, for which, at the very beginning, the government has to devote itself to achieving the objectives of combating price hike and keeping the prices of essentials within tolerable limits and at the same time expediting economic growth,” said the outgoing president, whose successor will be elected in 30 days.
“Our country has to be freed from terrorism and corruption through proper enforcement of prevailing laws and by required reforms of law,” Iajuddin said, adding, “People of this country have given mandate to the newly elected government to bring a massive change in their political and economic lives.”
In achieving the goals, the president urged all citizens irrespective of their political affiliations to forget personal interests. “I urge upon all concerned, irrespective of parties and ideologies, to maintain peace and discipline and ensure security to lives and property of the masses,” he said.
Congratulating Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the new government, Iajuddin said now it is the expectation of the whole nation that the PM of the newly formed government will build a happy, prosperous and modern digital Bangladesh by virtue of her knowledge, experience and political sagacity.
On foreign policy, the president said Bangladesh is the only Muslim majority country where the people have given their verdict for establishing a non-communal democratic Bangladesh. “Diplomatic initiatives are to be taken in order to project Bangladesh as a modern, progressive, non-communal and moderate democratic Muslim state in the international arena,” he said.
Before delivering his speech, the president administered oath to newly elected Speaker Abdul Hamid and Deputy Speaker Col (retd) Shawkat Ali. They had been elected at the beginning of the inaugural session.
In his brief address, the president recalled with profound respect great martyrs and brave freedom fighters, whose sacrifice and forbearance had freed the nation from colonisation and led to the emergence of independent and sovereign Bangladesh.
“I respectfully remember the father of the nation, the best Bangalee of all time, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who dreamt of independent Bangladesh,” said Iajuddin.
He also recalled national leaders Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque, brave soldier of democracy Hossain Shahid Suhrawardy, and leader of the oppressed Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani who inspired and led the mass people during different phases of the historical movement against the colonial rule.
In the next sitting of parliament, the chief whip will move a thanksgiving motion on the president’s address and lawmakers will participate in a discussion on the motion and finally the House will accept it.
On the occasion of the inaugural session, the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban came to life after over two years since the dissolution of the eighth parliament on October 27, 2006.
Chief adviser to the immediate past caretaker government Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Election Commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda, Army Chief Gen Moeen U Ahmed, senior government officials and high-ups of diplomatic missions in Dhaka witnessed the beginning of the new parliament from the gallery.
Apart from electing the speaker and the deputy speaker, 122 ordinances promulgated by the president during the tenure of that caretaker government were placed for the parliament’s consideration on the first day of the inaugural session.
The Business Advisory Committee headed by the new speaker was formed. It will decide on the tenure of the inaugural session and other businesses.
The House accepted unanimously an obituary reference condoling the deaths of former lawmakers and eminent personalities at home and abroad.
A five-member panel of chairman was also nominated. The panel members will preside over the House in absence of the speaker and the deputy speaker.
Both AL and BNP had discussed strategies at their respective parliamentary party meeting in the parliament building before the session began.
In the evening, the speaker adjourned the sitting of the House till 4:00pm Wednesday.
Senior AL lawmakers Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Suranjit Sengupta and Abdul Jalil, who became known as reformists in the party after the 1/11 changeover, sat in the farthest corner of the front row of the treasury bench.
Prime Minister and leader of the House Sheikh Hasina, AL’s presidential nominee and deputy leader of the House Zillur Rahman, Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Finance Minister AMA Muhith, AL presidium members Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and Tofail Ahmed, Planning Minister AK Khandaker, LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam and Jatiya Party Chief HM Ershad sat on the first bench of the front row.
Junior lawmakers from the opposition sat in the front and second rows of the opposition bench as the immediate past Speaker Jamiruddin Sircar favoured them at the last moment of his tenure.
Leader of the opposition Khaleda Zia, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, MK Anwar, Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Kaikobad, Majibur Rahman Sarwar, Barkatullah Bulu, Zafrul Islam Chowdhury, Wahidul Alam, KM Mosharraf Hossain sat on the front bench.
Oli Ahmed, the only lawmaker from Liberal Democratic Party, also sat on the front bench beside BNP lawmaker Mosharraf.
The speaker’s seating arrangements annoyed the treasury bench as some of its senior lawmakers could not find their place in the front or second row.
The newly elected speaker informed the House that Habibur Rahman Mollah, AL lawmaker from Dhaka-5, has been in jail custody, on different charges.
As the speaker started reading out a statement from the jail authorities, a few AL lawmakers started shouting that a lawmaker cannot be confined to jail when parliament is in session.
“The government has no jurisdiction to keep the lawmaker behind bars,” AL lawmaker advocate Fazle Rabbi said loudly. Many lawmakers including a few from the opposition supported Rabbi’s view.
At that stage, the speaker said he has just heard the matter and informed the House.

Courtesy: thedailystar.net

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