Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman
Tarique Rahman (Born: 20 November 1967) is the Acting Chairman of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-BNP. He previously served as the Senior Vice-Chairman and Senior Joint Secretary of the party.
Mr Rahman has witnessed Bangladesh’s liberation struggles and political upheavals and became a part of it. As a boy, he witnessed the harsh reality of Bangladesh's liberation struggle alongside his mother Begum Khaleda Zia. During the war, when his father, Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman Bir Uttam, declared Bangladesh's independence and launched a resistance movement to liberate the country in March 1971, he, his mother, and his brother were arrested along with the family members and wives of other Bengali military officers, only to be released on December 16, 1971, when his father and his compatriots won Bangladesh's victory. As a result, he was one of the youngest prisoners of war fighting for Bangladesh's liberation.
After completing his initial studies at Dhaka’s BAF Shaheen College, he got enrolled in the Department of International Relations of the University of Dhaka in the 1980s. In the University, he read the political thoughts of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, Karl Marx and other exceptional thinkers. In 1986, on the eve of the Ershad government’s staged election, he evaded house arrest and appeared at the Press Club to address a press conference where he narrated how security agencies tried to block their movement against the lopsided election. As a result, to muzzle his voice, he along with his mother was frequently kept under house arrest by General H. M. Ershad’s autocratic government.
He took the streets with his mother during the anti-Ershad movement and joined BNP as a general member in 1988 at the Gabtali Upazila, a sub-district unit of the party. He mobilized people from the grassroots and contributed to the fall of H. M. Ershad's government.
He campaigned with his mother Begum Khaleda Zia in practically every district of the country before the 1991 election and won the election. His mother became Bangladesh's first female Prime Minister. He initiated a democratic process of electing leaders from the grassroots in Bogura, where was an executive member of the BNP unit. In 1993 in the Bogura district unit, he organised a convention where leadership was chosen through secret ballots to serve as a model for other district units of the party. Following the successful conference in Bogra, he encouraged other district units to elect their leaders democratically.
Prior to the 2001 election, Mr Rahman established an office in Dhaka to do studies on local-level problems and good governance. He also held discussions with intellectuals and civil society members there. Thanks to his efforts, the BNP won a landslide victory in the 2001 elections. Despite being the chairperson's son and receiving widespread support from the grassroots, he did not assume any public office by nepotism and concentrated on empowering the party's grassroots by bridging the gap between their representatives and the people. As a recognition of his efforts to build the party, he was appointed as the Senior Joint Secretary of BNP by the Standing Committee in 2002.
In 2005, Mr Rahman convened a countrywide grassroots forum that included every upazila or sub-district in Bangladesh. He visited every sub-district, addressed grassroots leaders and activists, held one-on-one conversations with locals, offered his opinions and listened to supporters' feedback, and preached the BNP's visions to the people. He informed people about government subsidies for farmers, allowances for the elderly, the anti-plastic bag movement to maintain ecological balance, and the distribution of stipends for female students, which greatly raised the gender ratio in schools. He personally signed at least 18,000 response letters to conference registrants. These response letters addressed regional issues and proposed possible solutions.
Tarique Rahman was targeted by the new vindictive dictatorship in 2007 after the unlawful takeover of power by an Awami League-backed military regime. Insiders of the system later revealed to the author of a book about the regime that the caretaker government's kingpins forced officials from several offices, including the anti-corruption commission, to file bogus allegations against Mr Rahman. Furthermore, he was tortured while in detention and had to leave the country for better treatment.
He was elected Senior Vice-Chairman of the BNP in 2009 and gradually became involved in the BNP's reorganisation. In 2018, when his mother, the former three-time Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda Zia was imprisoned under false charges, he was nominated as the Acting Chairman of the party. He has been leading the pro-democracy movement against autocrat Sheikh Hasina since then.
In 1994, Tarique Rahman married Dr Zubaida Rahman, the daughter of the former Bangladesh Navy chief and a two-time minister in subsequent governments Late Rear Admiral Mahbub Ali Khan. Zubaida Rahman is a qualified cardiologist by training and studied at Dhaka Medical College. They have a daughter named Zaima Zarnaz Rahman.