Amid deep uncertainty about the party’s political future following a massive defeat in the December-30 polls, BNP is going to observe the 1st anniversary of the jailing of its chairperson Khaleda Zia in a graft case with a simple programme on Friday.
Party senior leaders and Khaleda’s lawyers don not see any ray of hope to have Khaleda freed from jail any time soon as it depends on legal process without waging any strong street movement.
Political analysts think BNP should now focus on a movement over a single issue of Khaleda’s release to revive the party and rejuvenate its demoralised leaders and activists.
BNP will hold a protest rally at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh on Friday afternoon, marking the anniversary.
The programme will begin around 2:30pm which will be addressed by party senior leaders, said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Besides, the party’s different units across the country will hold the similar programme on Saturday.
BNP had a plan to hold a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan on Friday, but the party later postponed it due to the ongoing Ekushey Book Fair at the same venue.
On February 8, 2018, Khaleda was sent to Old Dhaka Central Jail after a lower court sentenced her to five years imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
On October 30, the High Court doubled her five-year jail term as she challenged the lower court verdict.
On October 29, Khaleda was convicted in Zia Charitable Trust corruption case and sentenced to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment by a special court.
The BNP chief has now been facing around 36 cases, including Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable corruption ones.
After the jailing of their chairperson, BNP waged a peaceful movement and passed their days with different action programmes for over two months which apparently did not yield any positive result.
Later, the party joined different city polls, and finally the national election apparently leaving the issue of Khaleda’s release for the court to settle.
BNP nominated Khaleda as its candidate for contesting the national election from Feni-1, Bogura-6 and Bogura-7 seats, but the apex court and the Election Commission announced her ineligible for the polls.
Though the party joined the election leaving her in jail, BNP suffered a massive defeat as it got only six seats, frustrating the party rank and file.
Khaleda’s lawyers said the BNP chief now needs to get bail in four cases for walking out of jail, but the issue of her release depends on the good will of the government.
“It would be very tough to free Khaleda Zia through a normal legal process as the government has destroyed all the institutions, including the judiciary. I personally don’t believe we’ll be able to have her released from jail depending on the rule of law,” said BNP Vice-chairman and Khaleda’s counsel Khandker Mahbub Hossain.
He said the only way to free her is to heat up the street. “Until we do it, we won’t be able to have Khaleda Zia released from jail.”
BNP insiders said though their senior leaders remained united for a long time in absence of its chairperson Khaleda Zia, a crack now has developed among them over its leadership and party overhauling.
Due to the division among the party leaders, they said BNP is being failed to come up with any action programmes to invigorate party’s disappointed grassroots after the December-30 national election.
Talking to UNB, pro-BNP intellectual and Dhaka University ex-Vice Chancellor Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said it is apparent that BNP senior leaders are facing a trouble to run the party in absence of Khaleda.
He said BNP could neither register that much protest against the national ‘questionable’ national election nor come up with any effective programmes to revitalise its grassroots.
Emajuddin also said BNP should carry out both legal battle and movement to have Khaleda freed and stage a comeback in politics.
A BNP standing committee member, wishing anonymity said their party had three challenges–freeing Khaleda, wining national election and strengthening party –after its chairperson was sent to jail. “But, we couldn’t successfully overcome any of the challenges.”
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said the government has kept Khaleda in jail for a year only to put BNP in trouble. “We’re trying to get her released through a legal battle. We’ll also come up with action programmes to mount pressure on the government to free her.”
BNP standing committee member Barrister Jamiruddin Sircar said he is in doubt whether it will be possible to free Khaleda from jail through a legal process. “I think Khaleda Zia won’t be freed if we can’t initiate a strong fight on the streets.”
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said neither the court nor the lawyers can free Khaleda without the government’s good will.
“Khaleda Zia will be freed by seven days if the government stops its political interference. So, we must now wage a united movement to force the government to free her.”unb