Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's tea party at the Gono Bhaban yesterday was a pleasant gathering of a section of politicians.
The PM and all the other political leaders who attended the programme were in a light-hearted mood and there was no serious discussion. A smiling Hasina went around different tables, enquiring about the well-being of her guests and taking photographs with them.
She hosted the programme for the leaders of political alliances and organisations who had joined dialogues with her before the 11th general election.
According to sources at the Prime Minister's Office, 54 political leaders were invited to the hour-long event that started around 3:30pm.
Leaders of all the political parties, except the Jatiya Oikyafront, including the BNP, and the Left Democratic Alliance, attended the tea party. Oikyafront and the LDA skipped the programme saying it had “no agenda”.
The two political alliances had also rejected the results of the general election, alleging widespread irregularities and vote rigging.
The Awami League won a landslide victory in the polls, bagging 257 out of 299 seats.
While talking to The Daily Star after yesterday's programme, Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon said, “It was a gathering free of any tension. Everyone, including the prime minister, was relaxed and delighted.”
The tea party became a joyous get-together of politicians, thanks to the prime minister's cordial behaviour towards the guests, he said.
“When she was passing near our table, we [jokingly] asked her whether we [leaders of Awami League's partners in the 14-party alliance] have become the opposition. At this, she sat with us with a smile and spent a long time,” Menon said.
“You are my companion during both good and bad times,” Menon quoted Hasina as telling them in reply.
Unlike the previous cabinet, the current cabinet has no member from the AL's partner in the alliance.
The PM also stressed the need for making the new parliament lively through concerted efforts, he added.
Hasina also said her father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, often used to organise such gatherings in the past when all politicians maintained good relations among each other.
Hasina also regretted that she could not do many things she wanted, on security grounds.
“You see security personnel surrounding me while I am sitting with you. I don't like it actually. I want to visit the Boi Mela everyday and flick through new books. But I can't do that for security reasons,” Menon quoted the PM as saying.
Hasina also said she wanted to hold such gatherings of political leaders frequently as those would end divisions among the political parties, said other participants.
For yesterday's tea party, the lush green south lawn of the Gono Bhaban was decorated with kureghar (hut), mat, mora and earthen pots, while patriotic songs were also played.
The guests were entertained with traditional foods, including chatpati, fuchka, muri, chanachur, and bhapa, chitai, patisapta, puli pitha, jilapi, kebab and nan ruti.
Leaders from different political parties, including Awami League, Jatiya Party, Workers Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Jasad-Inu), JP (Monju), Jasod (Ambia), Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BSD), Gonotantri Party, Samyabadi Dal, Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, Islami Oikya Jote, Tarikat Federation and Bangladesh National Alliance attended the tea party.
AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader, on behalf of the prime minister, later thanked the guests for attending the programme.
“At the end of the election, we seek your cooperation and the prime minister wants to fulfill her electoral pledges, that she made before the nation, word by word,” he said.
Hasina had held dialogues with the political parties at the Gono Bhaban from Nov 1-7 ahead of the December 30 election.