Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday reiterated her call to the countrymen not to allow anyone to play duck and drake with the fate of the Bangalee nation.
"I urge the countrymen not to let anyone to play duck and drake with the Banglee Nation's fate," she said while inaugurating the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project's Dhaka-Bhanga section as chief guest unveiling a plaque at a civic rally.
The premier said, "This country is ours; (we) attained independence in exchange for blood. Bangladesh will march forward in the world arena and stand with head high cherishing the ideology of the Father of the Nation."
Mentioning that Bangladesh will be a smart country by 2041, she said, "We will build a smart population, smart economy, smart government, and smart society. It is our goal."
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's younger daughter, Sheikh Rehana was present at the inaugural ceremony.
Echoing the Bangabandhu's quote "No one could hold back Bangalee" that he delivered during his historic March 7 speech, the prime minister said, "No one will be able to hold back this Bangalee, and nation will remain united."
As Awami League remains in power, the country witnesses the neutral election, she said, citing the remarks of a section of people who are talking about free, fair and neutral elections.
"And the people who talk about elections, who cast AL out from power every day, they don't want neutral elections as their birth took place in the hand of a person who grabbed power illegally," she said, adding, "they didn't come to power without vote rigging."
She continued that the BNP-Jamaat-led 20-party alliance got only 29 seats out of 300 seats in the 2008 election and since then they have been staying away from the elections.
She went on saying that apart from taking part in elections, they are engaging in playing with elections, arson terrorism, killing people and destruction.
Turning to the issue of Dr Muhammad Younus without mentioning his name, Sheikh Hasina, also the president of the ruling AL, said the World Bank stopped funding the Padma Bridge in favour of this person only to keep him in the position of managing Director, which he lost due to age limitation.
"I told that day, we will build the Padma Bridge with our own financing, and InshaAllah we have done it," she added.
With Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan in the chair, Secretary of the Ministry Dr Md Humayun Kabir delivered the welcome address.
Member of the Parliament from the local constituency (Munsiganj-2) Sagufta Yasmin Emily, Chief of Army Staff General S M Shafiuddin Ahmed and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Yao Wen also spoke.
At the outset of the function, a video documentary on the Padma Bridge rail link project and other development works of Bangladesh Railway under the present government was screened.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Railways Ministry ABM Fazle Karim Chowdhury, Bangladesh Railway Director General Md Kamrul Ahsan and Project Director Afzal Hossain were present at the dais.
"It is the day of fulfilling the dream to cross the Padma River by train," the prime minister said after inaugurating the rail service.
She said they have a target to link Bangladesh railway with the Trans Asian Railway.
"We're working to this end," she added.
Commercial train services on the rail route will begin within a short time, sources said.
Once the rail link becomes fully operational, it will save travel time between Dhaka and Jashore by half, help make a major boost to the country's railway connectivity.
The rail link will contribute significantly to the country's economy, as 64 districts of the country will be brought under the railway network in phases.
On September 7, the trial run of a special train on the Dhaka-Bhanga route through the Padma Bridge was completed.
After attending the civic rally that turned into a human sea at Mawa in Munshiganj, the prime minister is scheduled to take a ride on the special train by purchasing ticket to reach Bhanga in Faridpur via Padma Bridge.
Sheikh Hasina, also president of the ruling AL, then will attend a grand rally at Dr Kazi Abu Yusuf Stadium at Bhanga organised by the Faridpur district unit of AL.
During her train ride to Faridpur, eleven individuals from different professions are going to accompany the prime minister, reports UNB.
In this regard, Faridpur Deputy Commissioner Md Kamrul Ahsan Talukder said, soon after the decision of the prime minister's visit to Faridpur, the PMO gave them instructions to make a list of 11 people from different professions. The prime minister will go to Faridpur from Dhaka by train and she will talk to them and listen to their views.
"We have made a list of them and they will be sent to Dhaka on Tuesday morning under special arrangements," he added.
Those who will accompany the prime minister on the train journey are Freedom fighter Abul Faiz Shah Nawaz; freedom fighter Aminur Rahman Farid; vegetable vendor Helal Uddin; garment worker Rekha Begum; hawker Rahim Sheikh; bus driver Sultan Ahmed; Pastor Sathi Chakraborty; seed farmer Sahida Begum; primary school students Swarnajit Ghosh, Nusrat Jahan; and madrasa student Jannatul Ferdaus.
Talking about the train journey with the prime minister, freedom fighter Aminur Rahman Farid said, "I can’t articulate this feeling. I can’t believe I will be crossing the Padma Bridge on a train, that too with the PM!"
Rekha Begum said, "I don't know how I got this opportunity. Thanks to Almighty Allah. May he grant the PM a long life."
From Padma Bridge to Faridpur, the whole area is decked out in bright colors. Roads, including the Dhaka-Bhanga Expressway, are covered with banners and decorations to celebrate the launch of rail connectivity with the southwestern region.
Shah Md Ishtiaq Arif, general secretary of Faridpur district Awami League, said, “Ignoring the storm and rain, we have worked tirelessly day and night to ensure the success of the public meeting with the initiative of the district Awami League. Our goal is to gather more than two lakh people at the venue and surrounding areas.”
Later, the premier will leave Bhanga for her ancestral home at Tungipara in Gopalganj where she will pay rich tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing a wreath at his mausoleum, reports BSS.
After staying a night in her Tungipara residence, she will leave Gopalganj for Dhaka at Wednesday noon and scheduled to reach Ganabhaban in the afternoon.
Bangladesh Railway is constructing the 172km-long new rail tracks from Dhaka to Jashore under Padma Bridge Rail Link Project as its 82km part connecting Dhaka and Bhanga is opened today while the remaining portion connecting Jashore is likely to be launched in June next year, the project details said.
Dhaka-Bhanga rail service via Padma Bridge is inaugurated one year and two months after opening the landmark Padma Bridge in June last year.
On October 14 last year, the prime minister inaugurated the construction work of the rail link between Dhaka and Jessore under the 'Padma Bridge Rail Link Construction Project' as the project cost is estimated at Tk 39,246.80 crore while Exim Bank of China is providing Tk 21,036.70 crore as loan.
Upon completion, the railway connectivity will improve accessibility to the capital city with central and southwestern regions of the country through Padma Bridge, covering new areas of Munshiganj, Shariatpur, Madaripur and Narail districts.
The project will establish alternative railway connectivity linking Dhaka-Jessore-Khulna with 212.05km shorter route.
It will also establish another sub-route of Trans-Asian Railway Network in Bangladesh and introduce national, regional and international freight and BG container train service as this route will be free from speed and load restrictions for carrying containers.