Apart from that political analysts believe there is no way for the BNP to survive except by participating in the next parliamentary polls
With the 11th parliamentary election only three months away, BNP is far from starting their election campaign, when arch rival and ruling party Awami League’s campaign is already in full swing.
BNP leaders and activists are still focusing on getting Khaleda Zia out of jail, hoping that no election will be held without her being released.
Awami League started its election campaign several months ago, boosting party activities, arranging meetings across the country and trying to make new alliances.
BNP, who has been out of power since 2006, is now heading towards a future without a clear strategy leading to crisis inside the party, which has been developing inside the party without any preparations for fighting the election.
More crucial for BNP is that its top leadership is in disarray – Chairperson Khaleda Zia is in prison, serving a five-year sentence in a fraud case, and acting chairperson Tarique Rahman is in self-imposed exile in London.
In the last six months, the party has failed to initiate any major movement to free its chairperson, Khaleda Zia, since she landed in jail after a Dhaka court found her guilty in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission on February 8.
When most BNP leaders are hopeful for the release of their chairperson before poll, Awami League President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina recently cleared that incarcerated BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, could only be released either by the court or the president if she seeks clemency.
“I have not arrested Khaleda Zia. It was not even a political arrest. She was arrested for embezzling the money meant for orphans. There is no way they [BNP] can blame us for the situation,” she said.
Hasina, who is also the chief of the ruling party, said no renowned lawyers or barristers were able to prove Khaleda innocent in the case and there was no point in blaming Awami League for that.
Apart from that political analysts believe there is no way for the BNP to survive except by participating in the next parliamentary polls -- with or without Khaleda Zia, the party is still in dark about participating in the election.
When contacted, several senior leaders of BNP admitted that they are not prepared for election yet, where some claimed that preparation for the election is just a matter of time.
According to them election preparation will be completed if Khaleda will be released from jail. They hope that BNP will win in next election once she is out of jail.
Standing Committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said their party chairperson is not a criminal but the government has sent her to jail to keep her away from polls.
“Our lawyers do not have any gaps or we do not consider anything as their failure. The party is working legally to free its chairperson, in addition to launching a nationwide harsh movement this month.
But as long as the government does not want her bail, it is difficult to get her out of jail. That's why we decided to go forward with movement,” said Mosharraf, who has been a member of the BNP Standing Committee since 1994.
“People want us to go for a movement, and we will move with the demand of the release of Khaleda Zia from jail and also for neutral government during upcoming general election, because without a neutral government, BNP's victory in the polls would not be possible,” he said.
Another BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said Khaleda Zia is innocent.
“The lawyers are efficient, but we cannot free her from jail because the government does not want her to be on the field during election time,” he said.
He added that there is no point of seeking clemency from President as Khaleda is not a criminal, but a victim of conspiracies.
“We have more than 50,000 cases in our head so we do fail to participate in usual movements. However, the grassroots is ready for the movement to release our chairperson,” said Abbas.
Pro-BNP intellectual and former Dhaka University vice-chancellor Emazuddin Ahmed said: “Khaleda’s presence is absolutely necessary for the party to prepare and contest the polls. The party has popular support and needs to stake its claims in the elections and at the ballot box.”