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A One Party Rule in Bangladesh with Possible Khaleda’s Exit?

Published Apr 16, 2019
Updated Apr 19, 2020

Dominance of the Awami League would be the outcome of the fruits of long labour for Sheikh Hasina,  who has stayed on course to lead development and the Bangla brand of politics.

Media reports emanating from Dhaka seem to suggest that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Begum Khaleda Zia may be seeking parole and will move to London for medical treatment.

Khaleda, twice prime minister and a staunch opponent of the current prime minister Sheikh Hasina is a shadow of her past when she managed to mobilize the BNP after the assassination of her husband in May 1981.

Caught in multiple legal cases, the BNP chairperson has been in jail since a special court convicted her in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on February 8 last year.

Khaleda’s failing health appears to be the reason for the strong speculation that she may seek parole and move to London where her elder son Tarique Rehman who is also sentenced in the August 2004 grenade blasts case is one exile.

BNP party sources have remained non committal on the issue of Khaleda seeking parole.

Daily Star Bangladesh reported BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir saying, “it is up to their chairperson Khaleda Zia and her family whether she will apply for parole or not”.

Apart from her ill health, the performance of the BNP in the recent parliamentary elections in Bangladesh held on 30 December 2018 may have led to her quest to leave the country.

There were was an upsurge for party tickets for loyal members for the Jatiya Sansad polls. But with Khaleda in jail the campaign could not take off, while allegations of clamp down on the BNP supporters by law enforcement agencies and vote rigging skewed the field. 17 people were  killed in election-related violence.

The party could win only 5 seats in a polls that was swept by the ruling Awami League.

This may have added to the Chairperson’s health problems and she has been to BSMMU from Old Dhaka Central Jail on April 1.

The likelihood of Khaleda Zia seeking parole for medical treatment thus seems high.

What will be the quid pro quo for the same is evident with possible demand by the Awami League for 5 BNP members to join the parliament. The MPs have refused to join so far alleging that the polls were rigged.

This will give a degree of legitimacy creating a small opposition bench in the largely pro government Awami League -Jatiya Party – Sansad.

For Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League, absence of Khaleda Zia from the scene will pave the way for complete dominance of the political scene in the country by the Party.

It is believed that in the absence of the BNP chairperson possibility of revival of the party is low.

This is also substantiated by the fact that party cadres were not mobilized enough to take on the Awami League  during the elections in her absence.

Under the circumstances Bangladesh could well emerge as a one party democracy in the future as there is no opposition worth the name in sight.

In fact signs of the same were evident with voter disinterest in the recently held first few rounds of the Upazila polls  of low turnout possibly recognizing the fact that there was no genuine political competition

The Jatiya Party is also going through difficulty with the former military dictator H M Ershad constrained by age and health.

The dominance of the Awami League would be the outcome of the fruits of long labour for Sheikh Hasina,  who has stayed on course despite some disruptive actions by Khaleda and Tarique including the infamous August 2004 grenade attack in which the latter has been sentenced by the court of law.

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