The plot over HM Ershad’s illness before polls has thickened as one of his aides says the Jatiya Party chief is ‘not returning home from Singapore on Monday’.
The deposed military strongman s Deputy Press Secretary Khandaker Delwar Jalali and Jatiya Party Joint Office Secretary MA Razzak Khan on Sunday said their leader would return on Monday.
But later in the night, Jalali in a statement said Ershad would not return from Singapore on Monday as he will undergo some more medical tests.
He would not comment when asked why they updated their previous statement within hours.
He told reporters, who flocked to the party s Banani offices after seeing the second statement, that he knew nothing about the party chairman s condition or a possible date of return.
Ershad s Press Secretary Sunil Shuvo Roy did not take phone calls for comments Ershad flew to Singapore for advanced medical treatment on Dec 10, giving rise to a flurry of speculations ahead of the Dec 30 election.
He is contesting for two seats in the parliamentary election – Rangpur-3 and Dhaka-17.
Some of his supporters said the party had hinted he would pull out from Dhaka-17, but some others said their hero of politics would return on Dec 22 to fight for the seat in the capital.
The Jatiya Party has been allotted 26 seats to fight for in the election by the Awami League-led Grand Alliance but its leaders had submitted almost 150 nomination pleas.
The move has been angering Awami League grassroots leaders, but top leaders said it aimed to have the Jatiya Party in the opposition again if the BNP pulls out from the election in the eleventh hour. Ershad had announced that he would not run in the 2014 election over a dramatic illness and got admitted to the CMH. But he was elected during his stay in the hospital and was later appointed as the prime minister s special envoy.
A fresh wave of discussion began about the illness of the Jatiya Party chairman when the news was out during the nomination process that he had been admitted to the CMH because of low haemoglobin count in his blood .
Ershad is genuinely sick and the situation is not a political stunt, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader told reporters at the end of the last month.
But the then Jatiya Party secretary general, ABM Ruhul Amin Howlader, gave a different account. Ershad s sickness is not that serious, he had said, adding that Ershad will run for parliament.
Since then a number of Jatiya Party leaders have accused Ershad and Howlader of charging them exorbitant sums of money for nominations, which Howlader had denied.
There was a sudden change in the Jatiya Party after Howlader s nomination for Patuakhali-1 seat was rejected. The secretary general, a close confidante of the party chief, was replaced with Mashiur Rahman Ranga, known as a close aide to the government.
Ershad feels vulnerable due to a low haemoglobin count in his blood, Ranga told journalists. He needs to frequent the hospital, he added.
“He goes to CMH if he suffers sleep disturbances. He feels scared of being alone in the house. Also, there is always a risk of infection.”
On Dec 6, the Jatiya Party chairman suddenly came to his political office in Banani and spoke for a few minutes with leaders and activists.
There he claimed that he had been barred from getting medical treatment and also from travelling abroad.
Ershad is as fit as you can be at the age of 88, his brother and the party s Co-Chairman GM Quader had said. There is no mystery about it, he had remarked.