Vol. 5 Num 1060 Sat. May 26, 2007  
Front Page

Khaleda denies existence of dynastic politics
Promises party reforms after lifting of ban on politics as she meets Butenis who repeated call for early polls

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday said her party does not practise politics of dynasty and will back only those with qualifications and popular support.

Demanding elections without delay, she said the BNP will initiate intra-party reforms as soon as the ban on indoor politics goes.

The former prime minister was speaking to journalists after meeting US Ambassador in Dhaka Patricia A Butenis at a city hotel.

At the press briefing, Butenis urged the government to withdraw the ban so that the political parties can begin the work on reforms. She also stressed the need for holding the election as soon as possible.

Asked to comment on dynastic politics, Khaleda said, "The position I'm in today has not been achieved overnight by means of family influence. It's for years of struggle on the streets, merit and support of the people."

"I believe only those accepted by the people will excel in politics," she said dismissing the allegation that the 'Zia dynasty' rules the BNP.

Her reaction came in the wake of some senior party leaders blaming her for promoting the politics of dynasty.

"We will begin working towards that end once the ban on indoor politics is withdrawn," she said referring to the much-talked about reform of the political parties.

Replying to a query, Khaleda said, "A lot of issues came up for discussion. They (US) want early elections like we do."

A party insider said that during the one and a half hours meeting that began at 4:30pm the BNP chairperson questioned the rationale for the 18-month time frame set for holding the next election.

"Five to six months are enough to have the job done," she was quoted as saying.

Asked if she is under pressure to leave the country, she smiled and said, "As you can see, I am still here."

Khaleda came out of her cantonment residence yesterday for the first time in the last two weeks.

Talking to the journalists, Butenis said, "We touched on a lot of issues including election, reforms and the voter list. I think it would be difficult for the political parties to share ideas on these if the ban is not lifted."

She said, "I call on the government to lift the ban on indoor politics and I hope they will do so."

The US envoy made a similar call after meeting Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on May 16.

According to party sources, before the formal meeting began, Khaleda talked with Butenis for about 30 minutes behind closed doors. Tarique's wife Zobaida Rahman accompanied her at that time.

Butenis enquired about Tarique Rahman, senior joint secretary general of the BNP and elder son of the former premier. She wanted to know if he is being treated properly in jail, added the sources.

BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, Standing Committee members Dr RA Gani, Chowdhury Tanveer Ahmed Siddique, Khandaker Delwar Hossain, Vice-president Lt Gen (retired) Mir Shawkat Ali, the party chief's advisers Justice TH Khan, Reaz Rahman and Mushfiqur Rahman were present at the meeting.

Later, Khaleda spoke to her party colleagues for about 20 minutes about the present political situation, said the sources.

Reaz Rahman, an adviser to the BNP chairperson, at a press briefing termed the meeting a 'farewell' to Butenis.

He said both Khaleda and the US ambassador hoped that the election would be held well before the end of the time limit announced by the Election Commission.

Outgoing US ambassador to Bangladesh Patricia A Butenis meets BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia at Sheraton Hotel in the capital yesterday. PHOTO: STAR