BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is not celebrating her "birthday" today as the country is now facing problems like militancy and flood, said BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
“Many BNP leaders are now in jail, while people are passing their days amid threats of militant attacks. Under these circumstances, Khaleda Zia's birthday would not be celebrated this year," Fakhrul told The Daily Star yesterday.
"She [Khaleda] also thinks that there is no reason for celebrating her birthday at this age," he added.
Leaders and activists of different fronts and associate bodies of the party have also been asked not to gather in front of her Gulshan office on this occasion, said sources at the office.
Even after that, some BNP leaders and activists went there with flowers to wish Khaleda last night. They were allowed in but not with flowers, said insiders at the party.
Contacted, BNP standing committee member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said, "I welcome the decision of Khaleda Zia to cancel her birthday celebration on this day [August 15] when Bangabandhu and most of his family members were killed [in 1975]."
In his reaction to the decision, ruling Awami League presidium member Kazi Zafarullah said it showed that good sense has finally prevailed on Khaleda Zia.
"The nation knows that it is not her real birthday. She just celebrates the fake birthday on this day as a part of her politics of vengeance," he said.
Party insiders said though the BNP mentioned the present situation of the country for cancelling the celebrations of her 71st birthday, she has taken the decision as the pro-BNP intellectuals and some other politicians told her that her recent initiative for forging national unity against militancy would be questioned if she celebrates her birthday this year.
They also added that Khaleda wanted to see the reaction after cancelling the programme and she believed that she would be benefited in future.
On October 26, 2013, in a telephone conversation with Khaleda Zia about the 10th parliamentary polls issue, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also raised question about observing the birthday on August 15.
Recently, in a meeting with Khaleda over the forging of unity against militancy, Krishak Sramik Janata League President Kader Siddique also urged Khaleda not to observe her birthday on the day.
Amid controversies over the authenticity of her date of birth, different quarters questioned the "taste" of someone who would celebrate her birthday on the National Mourning Day "just to mock her political rival".
The BNP has been claiming that it was not Khaleda Zia, but the party leaders and activists who celebrate the day.
Hours before the announcement of cancelling the birthday celebration, Bangladesh Chhatra League, pro-AL student body, at a human chain programme announced that they would protest any move for celebrating the birthday and urged the countrymen to hand over to police anyone who would prepare her birthday cakes.
In 1993, the BNP started observing Khaleda's birthday on August 15 on a limited scale, but becoming opposition party in 1996, it started observing the programme on a large scale.
Khaleda usually cuts cakes around 12:01am this day every year.
However, she cut cakes around 9:15pm last year, despite calls from different quarters not to celebrate the birthday on August 15 as the day is observed as the National Mourning Day.
According to media reports, the former PM has mentioned three separate dates of birth in various documents -- September 5, 1946 in her matriculation exam form; August 5, 1944 in her marriage certificate; and August 19, 1947 in the record of her prime ministerial oath.