HOW KHALEDA ENDS UP A LOSER
In keeping herself confined to her party’s office at posh Gulshan residential district BNP leader Khaleda Zia is trying to evoke public sympathy to her condition.
She has been staying in the two-storied office since Jan. 3 on the plea that police will surely detain her once she leaves the building and keep it locked. Thus she fears that she and her close aides will lose their shelter. She did not leave the office even when the body of her youngest son Arafat Rahman Koko was brought to Dhaka from Malaysia, where he died of a heart attack, this month for burial. Instead the body was brought for his grieving mother to see the body and pray for the son’s departed soul. Contrary to public expectation Khaleda did not even relax her bloody campaign of blockade and hartal (general strike) even though her party observed a three-day mourning for Koko. She displayed mantle in continuing the campaign ignoring widespread public calls to ease the campaign for the sake of Ijtema, the annual gathering of Tabligs considered the world’s second largest Islamic congregation after annual Hajj pilgrimage.
She was equally strong in defying repeated calls from 1.5 million SSC examinees and their worried guardians to postpone her otherwise mindless campaign so the students can complete their annual tests, crucial for their higher education. She, however, did not forget to send her two grandchildren (daughters of Koko) back to Kuala Lumpur even during the mourning for their father so they don’t miss their annual exams.
The latest item in the basket of Khaleda’s surprises has been her decision against visiting the central shaheed minar on Ekushey February to pay homage to the heroes of the 1952 Language Movement. This time she argued that once she went out of the office she wouldn’t be allowed to get in. Instead, her party held a milad (religious prayer) at the end of which grapes and sweets were distributed among the participants, most of them her aides. She sent a small delegation, led by her advisor Enam Ahmed Chowdhury, to the shaheed minar to do the job. Many saw this as a bad gesture on an occasion when the entire nation wakes up early in the day, many walking barefoot, to shaheed minars across the country to remember the brave Bengalis who sacrificed their lives to establish the right to speak in the mother tongue. In not visiting the central shaheed minar Khaleda further alienated her from the people who keep the noble event above petty party politics.
Khaleda has a few problems as a politician. She is short-sighted and holds a one-track attitude. She feels pampered as her aides and supporters describe her as an uncompromising leader. Her inflexibility and the lack of political manoeuvre had won her the office of the prime minister only once in 1991 in the election following the ouster of H.M Ershad. Since then she has been a loser as she stuck to this principle. She is still losing.
Many of her party’s top leaders had wanted her to take part in the Jan.5 election taking advantage of the concessions offered by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Hasina announced on the floor of the parliament that BNP would be given whatever portfolios it wanted in a national government that will supervise the polls. That time Hasina just wanted to be a caretaker prime minister and her key concern was to get as many parties as possible to get on board the election train. She was desperate in buying the support of other political parties _ irrespective of their sizes _to overcome the crisis she had faced. Khaleda failed to grab the opportunity and thus missed the election train. Neither did she take part in the ballots nor could she stop the vote even though BNP-Jamaat elements set fire to many schools to be used as polling centres. It was during the run-up to the election that anti-vote elements had begun using gun powder and petrol bombs to kill innocent people on packed buses.
The petrol bombs and arson attacks have returned and so the senseless killings of men, women and even children during Khaleda’s anti-Hasina campaign now running into its second month. This time too Khaleda has failed to evoke public sympathy for her cause that is being perceived as nothing but her desperate bid to grab power. Most people don’t consider it a movement for democracy and any other related cause. Once again the two-time premier ends up as a loser.
FEBRUARY 26, 2015