Prime Minister and also Awami League President, Sheikh Hasina recently directed party leaders and activists to be careful about commenting on the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case verdict.
But the ruling party has decided to use the case verdict in the campaign for the upcoming 11th general polls, according to party insiders.
Two Awami League presidium members, on condition of anonymity, stated that the verdict of the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case is proof of BNP Chief Khaleda Zia and the involvement of her sons in corrupt practices.
They added: “In future election campaigns, Awami League will create awareness about BNP’s misdeeds and urge people not to vote for corrupt political leaders. The party high command has asked all leaders and activists to let people know about the court finding Khaleda and her sons guilty.”
Meanwhile, another senior Awami League leader, asking not to be named, added: “During the election campaign, we will inform people about present government’s development projects, as well as the corruption and anarchy perpetrated by the BNP, Khaleda Zia and her sons.”
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, a joint general secretary of Awami League, preferring to be anonymous confirmed that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to visit Rajshahi and Khulna on February 22 and March 3 respectively.
Several Awami League delegations comprised of central leaders including members of the advisory council and presidium, will also campaign throughout the country for the next general polls.
The senior ruling party leader claimed that not only party leaders, but Awami League President Sheikh Hasina will also use the graft case verdict against Khaleda during her election campaign.
On February 8, several hours after the graft case verdict was delivered, the prime minister criticized the BNP chief by saying that Khaleda Zia and her son reaped the results of their past misdeeds.
Urging people to refrain from voting for corrupt people, Sheikh Hasina said: “There will be no place for corrupt, patrons of militancy and terrorism and looters of orphans' money on Bangladesh soil.”
Apart from plans to use Zia graft verdict in the election campaign, the ruling party will also try to strengthen the public view that the judiciary is free and independent, and the Awami League had no involvement with the Khaleda graft case verdict.
Quoting the ruling party high command, three organizing secretaries of Awami League Central Working Committee told the Dhaka Tribune: “We must all be careful when utilizing the verdict to gain political advantage.
“If we make any mistakes, then BNP will use it to gain public sympathy.”
However, stating that the Zia graft case verdict is totally a matter of the court and Awami League has nothing to do with it, Awami League Publicity and Publication Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmud said: “Awami League has no plans to gain political advantage through it.”
On Thursday, Judge Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman of Dhaka’s Fifth Special Judge Court sentenced former Prime Minister Khaleda to five years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
The same court also sentenced each of the five other accused, including Khaleda’s son and BNP’s acting Chairperson Tarique Rahman, to 10 years of imprisonment and fined them Tk2.10 crore each.