POST TIME: 1 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
next national election
AL ‘wants to see’ Khaleda behind bars
Abu Jakir

AL ‘wants to see’ Khaleda behind bars

The Awami League (AL) wants to hold the next parliamentary elections by keeping BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia in jail, said ruling party insiders. The Sheikh Hasina government wants to hold the 11th parliamentary elections in December this year. On February 8, a Dhaka special court convicted Khaleda Zia and sentenced her to five years' imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. The former prime minister is now in Central Jail at Najumuddin Road. AL insiders think the BNP chief’s imprisonment might be prolonged till the parliamentary elections. Even if Khaleda gets bail in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, she might be shown arrested in other cases earlier filed against her.  Some of them are even saying that the BNP chairperson might have to spend the rest of her life in jail. After Khaleda’s conviction, the topic of discussion in political circles is whether she can come out from jail and contest the polls.

Nearly two weeks after Khaleda’s conviction, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told a press conference that the next parliamentary elections would be held in due time in line with constitutional guidelines, no matter which party joins or boycotts it.

About the BNP chief’s participation in the next polls, Sheikh Hasina said: “Khaleda Zia is in jail in a graft case. What can we do if her party decides not to participate in the polls without her. I can’t withdraw the case as we didn’t file it!”

However, talking to this correspondent, a central leader of the AL, seeking anonymity, said it is doubtful whether Khaleda Zia will be able to come out from jail ahead of the polls.  

Talking to this correspondent at the Dhanmondi party office last week, AL general secretary Obaidul Quader said that the main target of the AL is to make the next general election inclusive with the participation of all political parties.

“We want the BNP to participate in the polls. The party should join the polls without its chief Khaleda Zia, as they [BNP leaders] are saying that their party has become more strong after their chief’s conviction,” he added.

Talking on the issue, AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said Khaleda Zia has been held guilty of corruption by the court. Besides, she is a leader of terrorists and that’s why people want to see her in prison to ensure safety and peace in the country.

“She should say goodbye to politics, and BNP leaders should join the next polls without her,” Hanif added.

When contacted, an organising secretary of the AL, wishing anonymity, said on Tuesday: “The matter is now before the court. But it will be wise

for BNP leaders to make preparations for joining the next polls without Khaleda.”     

AL advisory council member and former law minister, Barrister Shafique Ahmed, said yesterday: “It depends on the court whether Khaleda’s imprisonment will be prolonged or not. All should have absolute faith in the court for the sake of establishing the rule of law. The law will take its own course. All are equal before the law.”  He was replying to a question on the latest move of the chamber court of the Appellate Division.   

In the latest move, the chamber court of the Appellate Division yesterday cleared the way for the trial proceedings against Khaleda Zia in a case filed over an arson attack on a bus in Chouddagram upazila, in Comilla district, in 2015, in which eight people were killed and 20 injured.

Following a government prayer made by attorney general Mahbubey Alam, the chamber judge of the Appellate Division, Justice Hassan Foyez Siddique, vacated the stay order of the High Court. This clears the way for showing Khaleda Zia arrested in the arson attack case, as a Comilla court has, in the meantime, issued a warrant of arrest against her in the case.