None from Zia family in polls race

Lutforzaman . Dhaka | Update:

Ziaur Rahman & Khaleda ZiaThis is for the first time the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is going to contest the national elections without the party being led by a member of the family of the BNP's founder Ziaur Rahman.

Khaleda Zia, who headed the BNP during the anti-autocracy movement in 1980s that culminated in 1990, led the party in four elections with two victories in 1991 and 2001.

Khaleda became the country's first female prime minister after the 1991 parliamentary polls and her govenment reintroduced the parliamentary form of government in the country the same year.

This time around, her nomination for contesting the polls from three constituencies was cancelled on the ground of what election commission officials argued as 'her conviction' in two graft cases.

The 1991 elections were the first polls that the BNP joined after the death of Ziaur Rahman, who was assasinated in a coup on 30 May 1981.

Khaleda Zia's brother Sayeed Iskander too joined the polls in 2001 and became member of parliament.

Khaleda Zia won as an MP in every parliamentary election her party joined since 1991. However, the BNP boycotted the 2014 general elections.

Tareque Rahman, Khaleda Zia's son and currently acting chairman of the BNP, had played active role in the election campaign in 2001, but has never been an MP.

Tarique, now in London and convict in a few cases, refrained from joining the electoral process directly. He has no chance of joining the polls soon.

Khaleda Zia lost her candidature as the election commission (EC) on Sunday scrapped all three of her nomination for contesting polls from Feni-1, Bogura-6 and Bogura-7 constituencies.

There were rumours that Tarique’s wife Jobaida Rahman and Sharmila Rahman, wife of Khaleda's late son Arafat Rahman, would return home and lead the party's election campaign.

However, neither Jobaida nor Sharmila came back, let alone collecting nomination forms. Sharmila also lives abroad.

Researcher Mohiuddin Ahmad called the absence of the Zia family members from this year's election process as a major shock for the party.

"The BNP has apparently come out of the family politics through this process," he said adding that this vacuum has instead offered the scope for making the BNP 'a real democratic party'.

"Now, it is up to the BNP whether it will grab the opportunity or not," he said.

Nasrin Iskander, wife of Khaleda Zia’s late brother Sayeed Iskander, who was expected to file nomination, decided not to join the last moment.

Khaleda’s younger brother Shameen Iskander also refrained from joining the race.

The only person, however, from the extended family of Khaleda Zia, who joined the elections is Rafiqul Islam Chowdhury, husband of Khaleda Zia’s younger sister Selina Islam, for Nilfamari-1 constituency.

Rafiqul Islam’s son Shahreen Islam is abconding while son of Khaleda Zia’s elder sister Khurshid Zahan Haque, Shahriar Rahman is not active in politics.

None of the Ziaur Rahman’s brothers and sisters is alive at the moment. His younger brother Ahmed Kamal died on 23 November 2017.

It has been learnt that no one from Ziaur Rahman’s family remains in the race of the upcoming elections, scheduled to be held on 30 December.

* This piece, originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla online, has been rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam

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