Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, left, and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia, right, attend the Armed Forces Day reception at Senakunja in the capital yesterday but they did not meet each other even after being in the same hall at the same time. Photo: Focus Bangla
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia did not meet or exchanged greetings even though the two political archrivals attended the same programme yesterday afternoon.
Hasina and Khaleda stayed at the Armed Forces Day reception programme for around an hour at Senakunja but refrained from communicating with each other.
They only exchanged pleasantries and talked to other dignitaries at the programme in Dhaka Cantonment.
Speaker Abdul Hamid, who was also there, exchanged pleasantries with the opposition leader and called upon her to return to the ongoing parliament session.
Talking to reporters later on, Hamid said, the BNP chief assured him of considering his request.
Awami League chief Hasina and the BNP chief Khaleda seldom see each other or talk to each other.
Expectation was high among hundreds of dignitaries attending the programme that the two top leaders would at least exchange greetings.
Khaleda flanked by her security personnel and her defence adviser, press secretary and personal assistant reached Senakunja around 4:00pm while the premier reached just after 4:00pm.
The BNP chief was sitting beside Speaker Abdul Hamid.
When Khaleda was leaving around 4:50pm, journalists asked for comments but she refused.
Hasina stayed until 5:00pm.
In her speech, the premier talked about her government's various measures to modernise the three forces.
Khaleda skipped the Armed Forces Day reception in 2010 and 2011. She, however, attended the reception in 2009 during the first year of the Awami League-led alliance government.
Hasina and Khaleda were last seen together at the Armed Forces Day ceremony on November 21, 2009.
The two top leaders also attended an iftar party of Armed Forces Day that year where they had shared a table and exchanged pleasantries.
The Armed Forces Division organises a reception each year for the family members of the Bir Shresthas (highest award winners for gallantry) as well as some selected freedom fighters with other gallantry awards and their family members.
The three chiefs of staff and other senior officials of the Army, Navy and Air Force and a host of distinguished personalities attended yesterday's programme.
On the two leaders not talking at the programme, Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif in an interview with the BBC yesterday said, "I think there may be differences of political ideology between the parities but it cannot be desired that there would be no social interaction."
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, "None of us want it [the two leaders not talking] for the sake of the county, politics and our future.
"If you want democracy in the true sense, you have to create a reciprocal relationship between political parties and leaders."
Prof Sirajul Islam Chowdhury of Dhaka University in his reaction to the BBC said, "It does not happen in parliament, in society and in occasions, so a division has been createdâ€¦that reflects in politics and also in the society.