After 23 years, Khaleda loses state facilities


Khaleda Zia

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, who had been elected either prime minister or leader of the opposition since restoration of democracy in 1991, is going to enjoy neither of the status this time.
She is losing all the state facilities for the first time in more than two decades, as Sheikh Hasina is all set to become the prime minister for two successive terms with a new cabinet taking charge on Sunday and Jatiya Party Presidium Member Raushan Ershad is set to play the role of leader of the opposition.

The BNP has meanwhile sought Ansar members from the government to guard Khaleda’s residence following the recent withdrawal of police protocol.
Khaleda, whose opposition combine boycotted the January 5 polls, has lost the position of opposition leader with yesterday’s oath taking of MPs-elect and selection of a new leader of the opposition, which is equivalent to the rank of a full-minister, according to well-informed sources.
The BNP chief, who has been premier twice and lawmaker four times since the fall of military dictator HM Ershad in 1990, has enjoyed state facilities either as a prime minister or as an opposition leader till December last year.
The BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance boycotted the January 5, 2014 controversial election. The opposition has been staging anti-government movement since 2011 demanding holding of the 10th parliamentary polls under a nonparty caretaker government, which Sheikh Hasina rejected by terming it unconstitutional.
Jatiya Party that bagged 33 seats in the January 5 election [20 of them elected unopposed] at a meeting yesterday at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban elected Raushan Ershad, wife of the former military dictator, as the leader of the opposition and chief of the JP Parliamentary Party.
Interestingly, a JP influential leader close to the ruling Awami League yesterday told reporters the party would also join the cabinet.
The JP is likely to send a resolution of the meeting informing Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury to take measures to that end, its lawmaker Mujibul Haque Chunnu told The Daily Star.
Earlier, the government withdrew police protocol from Khaleda’s residence on December 28.
However, on Wednesday night, the DMP sent back the two protection vehicles for her security along with a 14-member police team.
Sources in the BNP said they were not sure if the protocol was permanent.
As the leader of the opposition the BNP chief maintained an office at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban. She was also entitled to get a private secretary, an assistant private secretary, two personal assistants, three office assistants, three peons, a full-time chauffeur-driven car and all logistic supports for the office.
She was also entitled to get a cook and other supporting staff in case of her staying at her government residence. The BNP chief, however, has been living in a rented house at the city’s Gulshan since 2010. The parliament canteen provided all entertainment facilities for her as the opposition leader.
According to the privilege act amended in 2010, the leader of the opposition gets a monthly allowance of Tk 53,100 and an official residence that would be furnished at a cost of Tk 5 lakh. If he/she lives elsewhere, he/she would receive Tk 25,000 per month.
Before withdrawing her security protocol, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police used to provide a security team of one head constable, one nayek and six constables. Besides, two gunmen from the Special Branch were on duty round the clock at Khaleda’s residence.
The Parliament Secretariat also provided Khaleda with all utility services including water, electricity, gas, and telephone and mobile phone bills. The transportation pool provided her with two vehicles — one official car and an additional jeep for official purpose.
Khaleda was first elected in five constituencies simultaneously in the fifth parliament and became the leader of the House and prime minister in 1991. She became the opposition leader in 1996 by winning the same number of seats. The BNP chairperson again became the prime minister in the eighth parliament in 2001-2006.
In the December 29, 2008 polls, Khaleda became the opposition leader as her party-led alliance won only 30 seats.