Millennium hangover in House
The Jatiya Sangsad went into session yesterday with a millennium fervour although the Speaker dropped special arrangements for a "millennium session" as the Opposition members continued their abstention.
A warm and rejoicing atmosphere prevailed in the House where exchange of millennium greetings marked the day's business. Presence of nine new ministers added colour to the occasion as their party colleagues greeted them.
The sprawling Sangsad Bhaban and its compound were tastefully decorated with colourful flags and banners and kaleidoscopic lights.
Red roses were kept on the desks of all lawmakers including those of major opposition parties despite their continued abstention. But lawmakers belonging to the Jatiya Party (M-M) joined yesterday's session.
Two such roses each were seen on the tables of Speaker Humayun Rasheed Choudhury and Leader of the House Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Amid cheers and applause, the Speaker greeted President Shahabuddin Ahmed with a bouquet as he entered the House to deliver his address the first session of the year.
Earlier, Speaker Choudhury welcomed all to the session that coincided with the "beginning of the new century". At the outset of his 75-minute speech, the President spoke of the "dawn of the new millennium".
Entering the House one minute before the Speaker took his chair at 10:01 am, Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina reciprocated the warm and cordial greetings from her Cabinet colleagues and other MPs in the Treasury Bench. With a broad smile, she wished all a happy New Year and a new millennium.
Hasina picked up the roses from her table to smell and then put those back. Many of the Treasury Bench members were also seen smelling their roses while some of them tucked those on their suits.
Enthusiastic lawmakers thumped their desks to welcome the President, the PM and the Speaker.
In their speeches, both the President and the Speaker hoped that the nation would be able to build a prosperous Bangladesh in the new century on the platform built in the outgoing century.
Foreign diplomats and other dignitaries jam-packed the VVIP galleries where PM's younger sister Sheikh Rehena was also present. But the ordinary visitors' galleries failed to draw the usual crowd.
The nine new ministers including two non-MPs were warmly greeted by their colleagues. Changes in sitting arrangements were also made.
Food Minister Amir Hossain Amu, appointed from technocrat quota, was given a seat on the front row, next to six seats from the PM's.
But the other technocrat minister - Commerce Minister Abdul Jalil - was placed in the second row.
Health Minister Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim's first-row seat remained unchanged.
Seats of some ministers and state ministers were also changed.
Two of the newly elected MPs - State Minister for Housing and Public Works Dr. Alauddin and Chayan Islam - also attended yesterday's sitting. Chayan was elected as an independent candidate. The other - Shamsul Momen Shahjahan - did not attend the session as a case against his election result is pending.
The House was adjourned until 9:30 am on January 12.