The longstanding feud between ruling party Awami League and BNP over BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s celebration of a “birthday” on August 15 looks set to continue, despite the opposition party holding no official celebrations once again this year.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, also the Road Transport and Bridges minister, on Tuesday said that no further dialogue would be held with BNP until Khaleda Zia stopped celebrating her “false birthday” on the National Mourning Day.
BSS quoted the Awami League leader as saying: "Khaleda Zia has disrupted the normal flow of democracy by observing her fake birthday on August 15. She is also spoiling the environment for holding dialogue by observing her fake birthday."
The general secretary made the comments after paying tribute to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in front of his portrait at the Bangabandhu Bhaban in Dhanmondi.
Meanwhile, in an earlier event on the day, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said that the party has decided not to celebrate the chairperson’s “birthday” due to her current physical condition and ongoing flood situation.
Khaleda Zia is currently in London, recovering from surgery on her right eye. She went to the UK on July 15 and had the surgery on August 8.
Considering the current situation, milad mahfils would be organised and relief materials distributed instead of regular celebrations, Rizvi had said.
Speaking at one such milad mahfil at BNP’s Naya Paltan central office, BNP Standing Committee member Mirza Abbas said: “In such a dire situation, all kinds of celebrations for the BNP chairperson's birthday programmes have been cancelled.”
August 15 is observed as the National Mourning Day, as it was on this day in 1975 that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his most of his family members were assassinated, with his daughter and current Awami League President Sheikh Hasina being one of the few survivors.
The controversy about the date between Awami League and BNP began in 1991, when BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia first celebrated the date and declared it “her official birthday” after assuming office as the then prime minister.
Awami League leaders have long been claiming that Khaleda’s birthday is on September 5, 1945, as per her marriage certificate and August 19, 1946, as per her first passport.
Khaleda herself listed the date as August 9, 1944, when registering for her matriculation exams, Awami League sources said.
BNP also did not hold official celebrations on August 15 last year, citing floods across the country on that occasion as well. However, party members celebrated the date the following day.