Leader of the Opposition and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina walked Sunday into the parliament House along with her deputies, breaking her marathon boycott for 19 months in the latest spell, report agencies.
She made the comeback after her absence for 87 consecutive working days -- three days away from falling into the truancy trap laid at the 90-day deadline for staying away without leave of Parliament. Her absence spread over seven sessions as she last addressed the House on the concluding day of the 12th session on July 14, 2004.
However, her deputies attended the 13th and the 14th sessions prorogued on December 2, 2004 when Deputy Leader of the Opposition Abdul Hamid made his concluding address on behalf of the opposition in absence of Hasina.
The Awami League lawmakers had been boycotting the House on various issues like abusive words hurled by a state minister at Sheikh Hasina, switching off her microphone and finally non-acceptance of their adjournment motion for discussion on the killing of former finance minister SAMS Kibria by deferring the President's New Year address on January 31, 2005.
This is AL MPs' third return after long boycott of the present Eighth Parliament elected through elections on October 1, 2001.
The first session of the eighth parliament was held on October 28, 2001, but the AL did not turn up in protest against alleged rigging in the elections.
After the expiry of two sessions, AL MPs first joined the parliament in its third session on June 24, 2002.
They again boycotted parliament on June 25, 2003 in protest against the abusive remarks by a state minister against Hasina. They demanded apology from the state minister for works, Alamgir Kabir.
However, without realising their three-point demand, the AL lawmakers returned to the House on June 15, 2004, ending a staggering boycott for 71 consecutive working days.
This time around in the parliamentary seesawing, although Hasina started abstention from the 13th and the 14th session, her party MPs attended both these sessions. But Hasina and her colleagues altogether started boycotting parliament from the 15th session that began on January 31, 2005.
Hasina and 54 other AL lawmakers, out of 57, joined the House. During their entrance, the House was having the question-hour session.
Asaduzzaman Noor was not in the city during the return of the opposition to the Parliament session while Altaf Hossain Golondaz is seriously ill.
Minutes after the joining, the House witnessed a lively proceedings as opposition MPs, including Shahjahan Khan, Faruk Khan, Shamsur Rahman Sharif and Noor-e-Alam Chowdhury Liton, took part in the question-hour session.
Earlier, the AL Parliamentary Party had a 45-minute meeting with Hasina in the chair.
Meeting sources said that Hasina asked her party MPs to project in the House the failures of the government, particularly in checking price spiral of essentials, improving law and order situation, ensuring adequate supply of fertiliser and diesel and uninterrupted power supply.
She also asked the party deputies to raise the issues of extremism, grenade and bomb attacks and the reign of terror being unleashed on the opposition activists across the country.
Opposition Whip Abdus Shahid told newsmen that they would raise a demand so that all opposition MPs could take part in the discussion on thanksgiving motion on the Presidential speech.
"The opposition should get half of the time of the discussion," he said.
He said that they would also place the reform proposal on caretaker government and election commission in the Parliament.