The government’s positive signal to extend the suspension of Khaleda Zia’s sentences for another six months has surely brought some sort of relief for her party rank and file, but political analysts think such conditional release is unlikely to help BNP gain any political mileage since she will virtually remain under ‘house arrest’.
This move, they said, has sent out a positive message in politics on one hand and brightened the government’s image on the other but it has exposed BNP’s 'political bankruptcy and extreme failure since it could not exert any pressure to free its chairperson over the last two and a half years'.
The political observers said some factors, including the prevailing corona situation, keeping politics normal, creating positive impression among people, not flouting previous conditions by Khaleda, her poor health condition and family members’ positive gesture may prompt the government to positively consider extending the temporary release of the BNP chief.
They are, however, sceptical about Khaleda’s political future or her return to politics.
Some party leaders also said the BNP chief is losing interest in politics due to her falling health and bleak political future.
As the six-month suspension of her sentences in two graft cases expires on September 24, Khaleda Zia's younger brother Shamim Iskander submitted an application to the government on August 25 for its extension.
On September 3, the Law Ministry gave its positive opinion for extending the suspension Khaleda’s sentences for six months more based on two conditions-- receiving treatment staying at her Gulshan residence and not leaving the country.
On March 25 last, the 76-year-old BNP chief was released from jail for six months upon an executive order.
Contacted, political analyst and Jahangirnagar University’s International Relations department's professor Tarek Shamsur Rahman said the government has shown a good gesture by taking the step to enhance Khaleda’s temporarily release.
“I think, the government is going to allow Khaleda remaining out of jail as she's losing her political capability due to her age and health condition. On the other hand, this move will create a good impression among people about the government,” he said.
Dr Tarek said an understanding between the government and BNP is now necessary to effectively deal with the corona pandemic, its fallouts, revive the economy and reduce unemployment. “The government’s decision regarding Khaleda can open the door for such an understanding. The government can even free Khaleda without condition since she has no political future due to her fragile health condition.”
He said BNP will not be politically benefited from this decision. “Khaleda Zia also won’t be benefited much from it except staying in a homely environment. She’ll remain almost under house arrest”
The political analyst said Khaleda Zia’s family has to depend on the compassion of the Prime Minister for her release since BNP has miserably failed to mount any pressure on the government to free her. “It’s exposed BNP’s bankruptcy. The party is suffering from a leadership crisis and right decisions.”
He said BNP needs a young and charismatic leader to guide the party and take it forward. “Tarique Rahman and BNP’s current standing committee are failing to revive the party. They need a change in leadership. I think, Tarique’s daughter Zaima Rahman can now lead the party and strengthen it rejuvenating its young forces.”
Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan) General Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar said as per media reports BNP chief’s release will be extended based on some conditions. “But we don’t know whether there is any secret understanding between the government and Khaleda Zia’s family.”
“Khaleda Zia needs treatment and she can’t do politics now. So, if she can’t go abroad for necessary treatment, what is the use of her release except staying in a homely environment?” he observed.
Majumdar said BNP should now give high priority to the advance treatment of Khaleda and reach an understating with the government for such an arrangement.
BNP standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Choudhury said their party chief now needs advance treatment either at home or abroad, but the government is imposing a condition so that she cannot leave the country. “There shouldn’t be any condition regarding the treatment. She won’t go abroad if her treatment is possible in the country. But one’s right to receive better treatment should not be restricted,” he said.
About a minister’s comment that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has shown her unprecedented generosity to extend Khaleda Zia’s sentences for six more months, Khonsu said it is not a matter of anybody’s compassion as their chairperson has the constitutional right to receive treatment as she is sick.
Asked whether it is not their party’s failure that it could not create any pressure on the government to free Khaleda over a long time, Khosru parried the question.