BNP spokesperson Asaduzzaman Ripon's latest claim that BNP leaders, not Khaleda Zia, celebrate the party chairperson’s birthday on August 15, which coincides with National Mourning Day, is partially true.
The whole truth is that Khaleda Zia joins her party leaders to celebrate her birthday on that day.
Take the example of the last year's birthday celebration. She cut a 50-pound cake at 12:01am at her Gulshan office. Her party leaders and activists wished her “Happy Birthday”.
She also cut two more cakes brought by Dhaka city BNP and the party’s student front Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal. After receiving flowers from party supporters at the office gate, she then asked the party leaders to distribute the cakes among the leaders and activists.
Senior party leaders Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Jamiruddin Sircar, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Abdul Moin Khan and Nazrul Islam Khan accompanied her there.
She has been cutting cake almost every year for around last two decades. Doesn't this mean she herself celebrate her birth day?
The BNP chief’s spokesperson Ripon might reply: “No”. Addressing a press briefing yesterday, he also opined that celebration of birthday is someone's personal matter and none should say anything about it.
He made the remarks in response to ruling Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam's call to Khaleda not to celebrate her birthday this year in a gesture to show respect to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Question is raised over someone's taste and mental health if s/he suddenly discovers his/her date of birth on the National Mourning Day and celebrates it by cutting cake to mock at his/her political rivals.
Is August 15 Khaleda's genuine birthday?
In the past, the media reported on several dates of her birth. As per the reports, she mentioned September 5, 1946, as her birthday in the form she filled for matriculation examination.
But in her marriage certificate and in the record of her prime ministerial oath, Khaleda had used August 5, 1944, and August 19, 1947 as her birthdays.
After all these, the BNP chief and her party leaders suddenly discovered, by the end of 1995 or early 1996, a new date to celebrate her birth: August 15, the day in 1975 when Father of the Nation was killed brutally along with his family members and staff.
In 2001, Khaleda's government even cancelled the previous Sheikh Hasina government’s announcement of August 15 as a national holiday and scrapped the status of the National Mourning Day.
These are nothing but a clear example of confrontational politics in the country.
There was no official programme to mark the mourning day until 2009 when Hasina's government again declared August 15 as a national holiday giving it the status as the National Mourning Day.
Though it seems from Ripon's statement that the party chief and her leaders may celebrate her birthday on August 15 this year too, Khaleda still can make a game changing move if she withdraws from celebrating her birthday on that day and also asks her party men to follow her.
Such a decision will earn her a political mileage and free her from the controversy she has mired herself by celebrating a dubious birthday.
Will she do so?