Debate if Khaleda can do Politics: Her health more pressing question

Amid conflicting statements from ministers over the legality of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia getting involved in politics, a more pressing question comes to the fore: whether she is physically fit enough to become active in politics.

According to physicians and BNP sources, the condition of the 77-year-old former prime minister can deteriorate anytime while treatment for her liver cirrhosis and various other ailments continues.

She suffered a heart attack last year and a stent was placed in her heart. She has low haemoglobin, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

Party leaders, however, said there is an ill motive behind the ministers' conflicting comments on Khaleda's involvement in politics.

"Madam [Khaleda] is too sick to do politics. She needs to be sent to an advanced medical centre abroad for better treatment," Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of the party, told The Daily Star yesterday.

Fakhrul said there is a question about the intention of the government as she is still not relieved from the case.

"Madam is away from politics just for her serious illness. But still, she is not relieved from the case. We are carrying out a movement demanding immediate and unconditional release of her from jail," he said, adding that once she was freed, she would go abroad for her medical treatment first.

The debate over whether Khaleda can engage in politics began when senior Awami League lawmaker Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim in parliament on January 26 claimed Khaleda was released from prison "giving an undertaking" that she won't get involved in politics.

The issue took a new turn when Law Minister Anisul Huq on Sunday said there was no legal bar for Khaleda to get involved in politics again but he wondered whether her poor health would even allow her to do so.

Again on Wednesday, Agriculture Minister and AL Presidium Member Abdur Razzaque echoed the statement of the law minister.

But Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud on Thursday said Khaleda cannot engage in politics due to the "conditions for her release".

The confusion was further fuelled by Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader the same day when he said that as a convicted person, there is no scope for Khaleda to get involved in politics.

The BNP chief was convicted and imprisoned in a corruption case in 2018.

She was released in March 2020 under an executive order and on the condition that she would not leave the country and must receive medical treatment in the country.


A member of Khaleda's medical team said one of them visits her once a day to check her physical condition.

"She is mentally very strong and positive," said the physician.

Because of her condition, she cannot move without the support of her aides and her diabetes remains unstable most of the time.

Two house helps assist her with her daily work while a physiotherapist remains in the house around the clock.

She wakes up around 9:00am and takes her breakfast with fruit, juice, and egg white. At 11:00am, she gets physiotherapy for around an hour and then takes her shower.

Her lunchtime starts around 2:00pm when she prefers rice, chicken or fish, especially Pabda.

After lunch and prayers, she watches television channels to get news and updates.

At 5:00pm, a physician comes to her house for a regular medical check-up.

She takes some snacks or fruit in the evening when her family members and relatives visit her.

At 9:00pm, she talks to her elder son and party's acting chairman Tarique Rahman, his wife, and granddaughter over the phone. She also calls the wife and daughter of her late son Arafat Rahman Koko. These phone conversations take around one hour every day.

She takes roti and some vegetables for dinner and then goes to bed. Sources said the BNP chief performs Namaz sitting on a chair due to arthritis.

Khaleda was admitted to Evercare Hospital six times since she was infected with Covid-19 in April 2021.

Her family submitted several applications to the government, seeking permission to send her to an advanced centre abroad for the treatment of her multiple health complications, but the government rejected it every time as she was convicted of corruption by the court in two cases.


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