BNP awaits Khaleda’s instruction for next move

Salman Tareque Sakil
Published : 00:00, Dec 15, 2019 | Updated : 00:39, Dec 15, 2019

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia attends a rally in Dhaka October 20, 2013. REUTERS FILE PHOTO
BNP’s next political move, after the Appellate Division denied bail to its party chief Khaleda Zia, is waiting for further instructions from her.
The party’s top policymaking forum National Standing Committee member Jamiruddin Sircar said that immediately after the top court scrapped Khaleda’s bail plea on Thursday (Dec 12), the party senior leaders met to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, the leaders are of the view that her bail was scrapped due to government interference.
The day before the appeal hearing, on Wednesday (Dec 11), Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir had alleged that the former premier’s medical reports were switched.
According to leaders, the policymakers are at a loss and the next steps depend on instructions from Khaleda, who is undergoing treatment as a prisoner at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
Since her incarceration in 2018, the party has been following her instructions to the book, they say. However, they expect that her attitude might change after the top court’s verdict but still have reservations about where things might go from there.
BNP Vice-Chairman and one of Khaleda’s legal counsels Khandaker Mahbub Hossain said that they are yet to find out what her attitude is.
“Just like the public was disappointed at the Appellate Division dismissing her bail, the same way she was surprised,” he told Bangla Tribune.
Saying that she was hopeful of receiving bail from the apex court, he added, “We are waiting on what she says.”
Sources said that when BNP might receive the instructions depends on the government and after a visit to Khaleda.
Although, her family was set to visit her on Saturday (Dec 14), it was later cancelled.
On the other hand, BNP allies are of the view that that the party has failed to wage effective movement for its chairman’s release.
“BNP can’t really do anything. The future of their politics is also dire since they have been away from political programs,” said a leader of opposition bloc Jatiya Oikya Front, who asked not to be named.
Although, BNP leaders and activists have remained relatively inactive for the last two years, Khandaker Mahbub said, “The movement for Khaleda Zia’s release will continue in the streets and in the court.”
He added that the ruling Awami League had been out of power for 21 years, and although BNP has stumbled, the party will continue its movements democratically.
On Dec 12, the Appellate Division rejected Khaleda’s bail in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
On Nov 14, she moved the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court order that rejected her bail petition in the case.
On Dec 4, the medical board formed by BSMMU for an update on Khaleda’s health condition filed its report with the university authorities.
On Nov 28, the six-member Appellate Division bench led by the chief justice ordered authorities concerned at BSMMU to submit the report before deferring the hearing of Khaleda's bail appeal.
Oct 29 last year, a special court in Dhaka sentenced the former premier to seven years in prison on charges the BNP claims as 'false and politically motivated'.
The 74-year-old former prime minister was transferred from the old jailhouse on Nazim Uddin Road to the BSMMU Hospital on Apr 1 this year for treatment.
Earlier, the government formed a board with doctors from the BSMMU to examine Khaleda's health.
The three-time premier has been in prison since February last year serving a total of 17 years in jail in the Zia Orphanage and Zia Charitable Trust corruption cases.