BNP Chairperson and three-time prime minister Khaleda Zia, 73, has been languishing in jail in Dhaka since February, 2018, after she was sentenced to five-years imprisonment for corruption charges in the Zia Orphanage Trust case
BNP, traditionally considered one of the two strongest political parties in the country, is currently going through its most challenging period since its formation in 1978.
BNP Chairperson and three-time prime minister Khaleda Zia, 73, has been languishing in jail in Dhaka since February, 2018, after she was sentenced to five-years imprisonment for corruption charges in the Zia Orphanage Trust case. Meanwhile, her son and acting party chairperson Tarique Rahman has been in self-imposed exile in London since 2008.
In the 11th general election on December 30, 2018, BNP candidates contested 258 out of 299 constituencies under the sheaf of paddy symbol. However, the party emerged victorious in just five constituencies.
BNP has repeatedly rejected the results of the election, claiming the party’s activists and voters were obstructed from campaigning and casting their ballots by ruling party cadres.
Senior journalist and political commentator Afsan Chowdhury told the Dhaka Tribune: “BNP will not benefit by refusing to participate in parliament. Regardless of whether the election was conducted in a fair or unfair manner, BNP failed to stay in the field.”
“BNP needs to stop their bickering-based politics. The party needs to focus on things that they can improve,” he added.
Afsan further said the aging leadership of BNP failed to understand Awami League's youth centric political strategy.
Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of civil society platform Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (SHUJAN), said: “BNP could not even become the opposition in parliament. They had a weak organizational structure, weak leadership, and joining Oikya Front did not do anything positive for them. The fact that BNP leaders and activists were riddled with cases did not help either.”
Grassroots BNP activists have expressed disappointment that the party’s senior leadership could neither stage a strong movement to free its chairperson Khaleda Zia nor utilize its popularity in the election.
Since its inception four decades ago, BNP has formed government four times - once under the leadership of its founder Ziaur Rahman, and thrice under the leadership of his widow Khaleda Zia.