Image Credit: Gulf News

Dhaka: Veteran politician and former secretary general of former prime minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan died at a city hospital, after midnight, on Tuesday, at the age of 67.

"He breathed his last at 12.02am," said an official at the Square Hospital, where Bhuiyan had been undergoing treatment for cancer. He had been on an artificial life support system for the past few weeks.

Bhuiyan left behind a wife and two sons. His political colleagues and his many admirers mourn his death.

A 1971 Liberation War veteran, he made his debut in politics as a left-leaning student activist in the early 1960s. Afterwards he joined BNP and served as a minister of a number of different governmental departments in successive BNP governments.

However, in a dramatic move, he was expelled from the right-leaning party for which he had served for 11 years as a "moderate politician" after the proclamation of a State of Emergency in 2007.

His expulsion was apparently linked to his stance supporting the reform campaign, launched by the military-backed interim government largely aimed at "democratising" the major parties of the now ruling Awami League of Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina and her archrival Khaleda Zia's BNP, which curtailed the absolute authorities of the two top leaders in the decision making process.

Senior BNP leaders, however, have paid their respects, along with Awami League leaders and a large number of admirers, while President Zillur Rahman issued a statement mourning his death and paying tribute to his memory. 

Bhuiyan is due to be buried later on Wednesday, with state honour as a 1971 veteran, at his ancestral home in suburban Narsigndi.