BNP played a strategic retreat over the death of staunch ally Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ghulam Azam, apparently fearing a public wrath.
Ghulam Azam died on Thursday night due to old age complications while being treated at Bangabandhu Medical College and Hospital still serving a 90-year prison sentence for committing crimes against humanity during Bangladesh's independence war in 1971.
Over the last many years, BNP and Jamaat staged a series of violent anti-government campaigns hand in hand - which saw killing of hundreds of people and maiming of many, mostly in late last year as they vainly tried to thwart a parliamentary election held in January this year.
BNP did not issue any formal reaction or condolence following death of Ghulam Azam nor any BNP leader attended his namaj-e-zanaja at Baitul Mokarram mosque on Saturday, witnesses said. The former Ameer of Jamaat was later buried at his family graveyard in the capital.
Several political and other organizations protested holding Ghulam's funeral prayer at the national mosque. Some even suggested his body should be sent to Pakistan, where he lived during the 1971 war and steadfastly pursued Pakistan's cause across the world. But it bore no result as former East Pakistan emerged as independent Bangladesh after bloody nine-month war that cost three million lives.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia once pronounced that her party and Jamaat had a historic bondage and partnership but lately, since early this year, their relations seemed to have deflated for reasons unknown to the public.
But political observers said they were still maintaining ties quietly and hoping to join force when Khaleda's promised movement to topple the government would be rolled out. Staying off Ghulam Azam's funeral and not officially reacting over his death was probably a strategic retreat, they said.
However, a handful of BNP leaders offered their personal gratitude to the deceased Islamist guru.