Begum Khaleda Zia ruled Bangladesh as the first woman prime minister from 1991 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2006.
She is currently the chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which was founded by Ziaur Rahman in the late 1970s.
Let’s take a look at her political career
After the assassination of Ziaur Rahman on May 30, 1981, Justice Abdus Sattar became chairman of the party and Khaleda the vice-chairman. When Sattar was ousted from the presidency by the military coup of Army Chief General Hussein Mohammad Ershad in 1982, she was elected chairperson.
She was active in opposing what she and her supporters considered the military autocracy of Ershad during the 1980s. During the autocratic rule of Hussain Muhammad Ershad the Bangladesh Nationalist Party formed a seven-party alliance. She was detained more than seven times because of her protests against Ershad.
In the face of a mass upsurge spearheaded by the alliances led by Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, Ershad at last handed over power to a neutral caretaker government headed by Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed on December 6, 1990.
In the parliamentary elections held under this government on February 27, 1991, Bangladesh Nationalist Party emerged victorious as a single majority party. On 20 March 1991, Khaleda Zia was sworn-in as the first woman prime minister of Bangladesh.
Khaleda Zia became the prime minister for a second consecutive term after BNP emerged victorious in the general elections for the 6th Jatiya Sangsad held on February 15, 1996. All major opposition parties, however, boycotted the elections. Their demand was to bring amendment to the Constitution for making the provision of a neutral caretaker government for conducting parliamentary elections.
To meet these demands, the 6th Jatiya Sangsad made the 13th amendment to the Constitution, after which the Jatiya Sangsad was dissolved and Khaleda Zia handed over power to a caretaker government on March 30, 1996. In the polls that followed under the caretaker government headed by Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman on June 12, 1996, BNP was defeated by the Awami League.
During the 1996-2001 tenure of the Awami League government, Khaleda Zia played the role of Leader of the Opposition in the Jatiya Sangsad.
In the next parliamentary elections held under a caretaker government headed by Justice Latifur Rahman on October 1, 2001, the BNP-led four-party alliance including Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami won. On October 10, 2001, Khaleda Zia was sworn-in as the country’s prime minister for the third time.
Following her government's term end in 2006, the scheduled January 2007 elections were delayed due to political violence and in-fighting, resulting in a bloodless military takeover of the caretaker government. During its interim rule, it charged Khaleda and her two sons with corruption.
In December 2008, the caretaker government organized general elections where the Awami League and its Grand Alliance (with 13 smaller parties) took a two-thirds majority of seats in the parliament. Sheikh Hasina became prime minister, and her party formed government in 2009.
Cases against Khaleda Zia: Total- 32
- September 2, 2007- Gatco graft case
- December 9, 2007- Niko graft case
- February 26, 2008- Barapukuria coalmine graft Case
- August 8, 2011- ACC filed Zia Charitable Trust graft case
- October 2, 2012- Loan default case
- January 2015- 3 Arson cases filed with Jatrabari Police Station
- January- March 2015- Nine arson cases filed with Darussalam Police Station
- February 3, 2015- 2 Arson cases in Comilla
- February 13, 2015- Arson case in Khulna
- February 17, 2015- Bomb attack (on Shipping Minister) case
- January 25, 2016 – Sedition case
- August 30, 2016- Case for celebrating ‘fake’ birthday
- November 3, 2016- Case for ‘undermining national flag’
- July 3, 2018- ACC filed Zia Orphanage Trust graft case
Khaleda is the second longest–serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh, after Sheikh Hasina since 1971 as she ruled the country for ten years.