Contrasts in political realities | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 31, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:31 AM, January 31, 2018

Contrasts in political realities

It's a stark contrast.

Awami League President Sheikh Hasina formally kicked off her election campaign yesterday as she flew to Sylhet and sought vote for her party for the 11th national parliamentary elections.

Her archrival BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia too had a busy day as she had to appear in court for the trial in a corruption case filed during the past AL rule.

Both of them started the day as per their schedule set earlier.

Hasina, also the prime minister, set off from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 10:40am for Sylhet where she inaugurated 14 development projects and laid foundation stones of 24 projects.

In the afternoon, she addressed a rally calling upon people to vote for the AL to “keep up the pace of development”.

"We are launching our campaign for the next general elections from here [Sylhet]. I seek your vote for boat [AL's electoral symbol] for the elections to be held in December," she said.

Khaleda left her Gulshan house around 11:00am for a makeshift special court set up in Old Dhaka's Bakshibazar.

The court is currently hearing the Zia Charitable Trust case.

In her deposition, the BNP chief said the case was filed with the ill motive to minus her from politics and disqualify her from contesting the next parliamentary elections.

"Activities of the government high-ups, their initiatives and statements in this regard have made it clear. That is why people have serious doubt if there will be justice in the cases filed against me," Khaleda told the court.

After over three hours in court, Khaleda, also a former prime minister, started returning to Gulshan around 3:30pm.

While she was on the way back, Hasina was delivering her speech at a crowded rally at Sylhet Government Alia Madrasa playground.

The prime minister will have another busy day today, attending four official programmes. At night, she will preside over a meeting of the AL Parliamentary Board to pick the party candidate for the presidential elections slated for February 18.

Khaleda, who is facing 32 cases, will begin her day today by showing up at the court for the trial in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case. She is scheduled to do the same tomorrow.

February 8 is now a much-talked-about date in political arena. The special court is scheduled to deliver its verdict in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case that day. And Khaleda has to appear before it to hear the verdict.

The same day, Hasina is scheduled to visit Barisal to inaugurate several development projects. She will also address a rally to be organised by her party as part of her election campaign.

These activities and schedules of the two top leaders speak a lot about the current focus of the AL and BNP.

According to AL insiders, Hasina will visit Gazipur, Rajshahi and Khulna by July. During the tour, she will lay foundation stones of different projects as well as address party rallies, highlighting her government's success to drum up people's support.

She will make these visits also keeping in mind the city corporation polls in Gazipur, Rajshahi, Barisal, Sylhet and Khulna, likely to be held in the middle of this year.

Teams formed by AL central leaders have started countrywide tours to strengthen the party and present the government's success stories before the voters.

The BNP has put all its attention on finding ways to deal with the February 8 verdict as the party fears Khaleda might be convicted to keep her out of the elections.

Leaders of the party and its allies have already held a number of meetings to discuss the next course of action.

The BNP briefed foreign diplomats yesterday about the “weaknesses” of the graft cases against Khaleda and conveyed its concern about the “government's eagerness” to convict Khaleda.

To listen to the grassroots voices, Khaleda has convened the BNP's national executive committee meeting on February 3 to discuss the party's strategy. 

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