BNP chief Khaleda Zia has finally admitted, albeit behind closed doors, that it was a mistake to back then president Iajuddin Ahmed as the chief adviser to the caretaker government in 2006.
She also went on to say that she should not have opposed then chief justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury becoming the chief adviser instead of Iajuddin.
She said this during a meeting of the BNP standing committee Thursday night at her Gulshan office, meeting sources claimed.
At the meeting BNP policymakers were discussing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's recent proposal for an interim government with a small cabinet to oversee the next parliamentary elections.
At one stage of the discussion, the former premier said backing president Iajuddin Ahmed as the chief adviser in 2006 was a bad decision. “We even opposed Justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury as head of the caretaker government as you [her colleagues in the standing committee] had told me he was an Awami League man. But it was wrong too,” meeting sources quoted Khaleda as saying.
“So what if he [Justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury] was a man of Awami League. [Justice] Latifur Rahman [former caretaker government chief] too was known as an Awami League man,” Khaleda said.
A member of the standing committee asking not to be named said the comment of the BNP chief seemed well thought out.
To The Daily Star, senior BNP leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said, “We are busy on the issues related to the future.”
On October 29, 2006, president Iajuddin Ahmed assumed the office of chief adviser to the non-party caretaker government in addition to his presidential responsibilities as major political parties failed to reach a consensus on an acceptable person for the post.
Justice KM Hasan was supposed to be the chief adviser but he declined as the Awami League-led alliance had opposed the idea. Later, the name of Justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury and Justice Hamidul Haque came into discussion but the BNP-led alliance opposed them.
Later, then president Iajuddin Ahmed held talks with four major political parties, BNP, Awami League, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jatiya Party, to resolve the stalemate over the chief adviser issue.
After the talks, a Bangabhaban spokesman told the media that the president would give his decision as "other options for appointing the caretaker government chief from retired judges of the Supreme Court had been exhausted".
During the talks, BNP, Jamaat and Jatiya Party had informed the then president that they had reservations about Justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury being the chief adviser, and Bangabhaban claimed that Justice Hamidul Haque had declined the post of chief adviser.
On October 29, 2006, Iajuddin was sworn in as chief adviser, which was welcomed by Khaleda Zia and her archrival Sheikh Hasina was dejected.
After some dramatic turn of events, Iajuddin declared emergency on January 11, 2007, and stepped down from the chief adviser post, which brought an end to over four-month-long political chaos and confrontation between Awami League and BNP.
The elections, however, were held almost two years later.