Same old trend | The Daily Star
12:48 AM, August 17, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:54 AM, August 17, 2013

News Analysis

Same old trend

Khaleda again celebrates her 'birthday' on National Mourning Day

By celebrating her controversial birthday again on the National Mourning Day, Khaleda Zia and BNP have undermined her latest promise to introduce a new trend in running the government, if voted to power in the next parliamentary election.
She herself did not explain much about it. However, her party's senior leaders described the promise as an indication of taking measures, if voted to power, to bring qualitative changes in the country's confrontational political culture as well as the system of governance to free it from corruption.
The BNP chief had made the promise at an Iftar party she hosted for public representatives of the local government institutions at the parliament complex, which drew a lot of attention.
Many BNP supporters and leaders who tried to believe in the BNP chief's promise were upset with the way she and her party celebrated her controversial birthday on Thursday, less than a month after making the promise.
This also indicates that the mindset of BNP high command remains unchanged. And it is difficult to believe that they would not practice politics of vengeance if voted to power, observers feel.
The reason is pretty clear. Celebration of the so-called birth day on August 15, the day the father of the nation was brutally assassinated by some disgruntled army men, was aimed at undermining the tragedy of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's murder.
Many termed the celebration an extreme manifestation of confrontational culture in politics which the BNP itself nourishes. This also exposed political and moral bankruptcy of the party.
This is not her genuine birthday. Khaleda and her party leaders had suddenly discovered the date of birth in 1996 after being ousted from power in the face of movement waged by Awami League and other parties. BNP was defeated by the Awami League in the parliamentary ballots that followed in June, 1996.
In the past, the media had run reports mentioning her several dates of birth. As per the reports, she mentioned September 5, 1946, as her birthday in the form she filled for matriculation examination. The other birthdays she had used were August 5, 1944, and August 19, 1947, in her marriage certificate and in the record of her prime ministerial oath.
Khaleda in her first term as the prime minister between 1991 and 1996 did not pay heed to the Awami League demand to revoke the indemnity ordinance that prevented trial of Bangabandhu killers.
Twenty-one years after Bangabandhu's murder, Awami League assumed power in 1996 under the leadership of his daughter Sheikh Hasina and scrapped the indemnity ordinance and began the trial process.
During that time, Khaleda and her party came up with the controversial birth date (August 15) and started to celebrate it widely.
When she again became prime minister in 2001, her government cancelled the Hasina-government decision declaring August 15 a national holiday and scrapped the status of the National Mourning Day. So, there was no official programme to mark the day.
Hasina's current government made August 15 a national holiday and the National Mourning Day.
The celebration of the controversial birthday of Khaleda Zia, on the day Bangabandhu was murdered, is seen by political observers as a clear sign of political culture remaining unchanged and that the BNP chairperson's recent promises of future changes may turn out to be empty.

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