The major opposition BNP was active in the issue of party chairperson Khaleda Zia’s permanent release and her treatment abroad instead of waging any ‘effective’ movement in the public issues in the outgoing year 2021.
The party was crippled by the coronavirus pandemic in the past year. A number of its leaders and activists were infected with the deadly pathogen and some of them also died while the party’s organisational activities were also limited to only press release or written statement.
Most of the time of the year 2021, the BNP was active for permanent release of Khaleda Zia and her better treatment abroad. It was the party’s tragic matter that its chief was infected with the coronavirus and her health condition deteriorated for the post-corona effects.
The 76-year-old BNP chief tested positive for Covid-19 on April 10, 2021 when eight people of her Gulshan residence were found infected with the virus. She tested corona positive for the second time on April 24 and was admitted to Evercare Hospital in the capital on April 27.
On April 28, a 10-member medical board, headed by Prof Shahabuddin Talukder, was formed for the treatment of Khaleda at the Evercare Hospital a day after her admission there.
On May 5, Khaleda’s family applied to the government seeking permission to take her abroad for better treatment, but the government rejected it. She received treatment at the hospital until June 19.
On October 12, she was admitted to the hospital for the second time with fever and some other health complications. She underwent a biopsy at the hospital on October 25 as she developed a small lump in her body. She was readmitted to the hospital on November 13.
The physician said Khaleda needs to go to an advanced medical centre abroad urgently for her treatment by applying ‘TIPS’ technology.
In the mid-November, the BNP started movement demanding permanent release of Khaleda Zia and her better treatment abroad as the party observed hunger strike across the country, including in Dhaka on November 20. The party handed over memorandums to DCs across the country on November 23. The same day it also announced 8-day programmes from November 25 that continued till December 4.
Later, the BNP held rallies in 32 districts from December 22 to December 30 to force the government to allow its chairperson Khaleda Zia to go abroad. The BNP standing committee will hold a meeting in the beginning of this week and will announce more movement programmes in the same issue.
In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, the BNP stopped its organisational activities from March due to fresh surge of the coronavirus infection that continued till September. After keeping the party’s programmes stopped for coronavirus, the party started its political programmes from October.
BNP held series of meeting of the members and office bearers of central executive committee and grassroots leaders from September 14 to September 23. It also held meetings with professionals, including lawyers, from September 27 to October 9 to decide the party’s next political strategy.
In 2021, the opposition BNP also boycotted local government polls, including union parishad, municipality and finally Narayanganj city corporation elections. After joining the municipal polls in February last, BNP decided to boycott the union parishad elections. Party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a press conference on February 28 made the announcement.
The party’s internal conflict also surfaced in the year 2021 as a number of central leaders resigned from the party, many others became inactive in the party activities and some ‘popular’ leaders were also relieved from the party posts in allegation of violating party discipline. Cumilla City Corporation Mayor Monirul Haque Sakku, also BNP national executive committee member, Khulna divisional organising secretary Nazrul Islam Manju and Narayanganj district BNP convener Taimur Alam Khandaker were relieved from the party posts, among others.
The party relieved its executive committee member Shafi Ahmed Chowdhury from the post. BNP chairperson’s press secretary Maruf Kamal Khan was also relieved from the post in April last year.
Meanwhile, Jamiyate Ulamaye Islam left the BNP-led 20-party alliance on July 14 and Khelafat Majlish on October 1.
The party also carried out its reorganising activities as they formed Dhaka north and Dhaka south city unit committees with Amanullah Aman and Abdus Salam conveners respectively on August 2.
The BNP at the end of the year boycotted the President’s dialogue with political parties on reconstitution of the Election Commission. BNP standing committee in its meeting held on December 27 decided to boycott the talks, terming it ‘meaningless’.
However, the BNP was so much vocal in the issue of Khaleda Zia in the year 2021 but they were not active or waged no effective movement in the various public issues, including price hike of fuel, gas, electricity and essential commodities.
The party also held some programmes to celebrate the golden jubilee of the independence of Bangladesh. Khandaker Mosharraf was the head of the committee.
Talking to the Daily Sun, BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said, “We can’t utilise the year 2021 due to the pandemic. We hope we will restore democracy in the country in the new year unseating this government.”