BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, now in jail on charges of Zia orphanage graft, is likely to be flown to London soon after her release on parole, it is learnt from reliable sources. A person, closely related to the Zia family, said on condition of anonymity that they are in favour of sending her abroad for better treatment.
“First, she has to be alive, then politics,” he asserted.
Most of the family members, including Tarique Rahman, want to bring her out of jail in collaboration with the government. It is learnt from a reliable source that Tarique does not want to be public about the ongoing move to release his mother. Party stalwarts are also informed about the move and accordingly. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakrul Islam Alamgir had made a telephone call to ruling Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader recently. BNP as a political party is stepping very carefully as if it does not know anything about the secret move initiated by the family members of Khaleda Zia.
Since Khaleda Zia was convicted by the court, the administration (government) has nothing to do with it and there is only option left for the BNP is to seek presidential mercy after admitting her guilt. In this case, what type of negotiation would be with the ruling party is still uncertain.
There are two lines of politics, which are being pursued inside the BNP on the issue of Khaleda’s release. One faction wants to release Khaleda Zia by movement fighting against the ruling party. But the other faction, mostly followers of Tarique Rahman, does not want to comment on the issue. Because Tarique himself is involved in the underhand process.
Both sides know that it is not possible to release Khaleda Zia through mass movement. Family members are so convinced that those talking about mass movement actually do not want Khaleda Zia released. And after the release, there will be a new polarization and some people will take the opportunity to become champion of uncompromising leadership. So there is a dilemma in BNP at the moment on the issue of Khaleda’s release on parole.
Besides, there are several groups inside the BNP led by some senior BNP leaders. Barrister Moudud Ahmed always leads a separate faction in the BNP. Some BNP leaders believe that Khaleda Zia had to lose her residence at Dhaka Cantonment after lodging a writ petition on the issue as suggested by Barrister Moudud.
He is now against Khaleda submitting a mercy petition for parole. Moudud is trying to establish that if Khaleda Zia is released through negation, the politics of both BNP and Khaleda Zia will be destroyed. He always vowed to release her through legal battle, instead of compromise.
Some BNP leaders and activists suspect that Barrister Moudud is a very mysterious politician. BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf leads a right-wing faction in the BNP. He also believes that the conditional release of the BNP chief may damage her political career along with the party.
Another standing committee member, Mirza Abbas, who has a strong hold in the city BNP, is against any secret negotiation. Because if Khaleda Zia is released on the basis of compromise, his influence in the party will decrease as his followers are active in the street movement.
BNP standing committee member Goyeshwar Chandra Roy is still against seeking Khaleda’s release on parole saying that she would be freed soon through waging a tougher movement. Amid increasing speculation of Khaleda Zia being released on parole, many other senior leaders of the BNP and its allies still believe that it would not be a wise to release her on conditional parole. They opined that her release should be secured through a tougher movement.
Many other leaders, however, think that Khaleda Zia, herself, should make a decision on this, since it is her personal affair. They view that parole is not necessary for her. She can be freed on bail if the government does not interfere in the issue. But, Dr Abdul Moin Khan, who is assigned to talk to foreign diplomats, wants Khaleda’s release at any cost.
He held several meetings with the influential diplomats and sought their assistance for the immediate release of the BNP chief. Khaleda has been in jail since February 8, 2018, when she was convicted for corruption. She was later found guilty in another corruption case.
Her release remains the BNP's main demand. The party has been accusing the government of neglecting her treatment and is demanding that she be sent abroad. Khaleda was shifted to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) last year.