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Is Bangladesh’s rising star Saima Wazed set to carry forward the legacy of her mother Sheikh Hasina?

Spotlight on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's daughter Saima Wazed (Image courtesy: Twitter)

All eyes are now on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s daughter, Saima Wazed. The 50 year old public health expert, who is contesting for election as regional director for South-East Asia Region (SEARO) at World Health Organization (WHO), is being seen as a successor to Hasina. However, political analysts said that she is unlikely to play a big role in the coming general election slated in January. She may take another few years before she joins active politics.

“The general perception is that Saima Wazed is being groomed but my assessment is that it may take some time for her to join active politics. She may not be part of the new government, which is formed after the elections, if the Awami League wins,” senior journalist and political analyst Syed Badrul Ahsan told India Narrative. Ahsan added that if she joins the WHO as regional director for SEARO, she will devote much of her time there in the near future. “But definitely in the next four to five years, we can expect her to take a more active role in Bangladesh’s politics,” Ahsan said, adding that Saima is extremely capable and conversant with world affairs.

Though Wazed has remained silent about her future moves or political ambitions, her presence at the recently concluded G20 summit in New Delhi with Hasina where she actively interacted with world leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden, caught the attention of many. Before the G20 summit, she participated at the ASEAN summit in Indonesia as well. She accompanied country’s President Mohammed Shahabuddin for the occasion.

Her joining politics would also mean that the legacy of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman will remain alive.

Hasina’s son, Sajeeb Wazed, popularly known as Joy, who was earlier being propped as Hasina’s successor seems to be taking a back seat.  Last year, Hasina said that Joy was the brain behind the Digital Bangladesh initiative. However, she said that he has not shown interest in a party or government position.

Sources said that a section of the ruling Awami League wants Hasina’s younger sister Sheikh Rehana to take over the mantle.

Ahsan pointed out that though there have been speculations on Rehana’s role, she has not shown any interest in joining active politics despite being close to Hasina. Rehana is often seen accompanying the Prime Minister on her trips and other engagements. While Rehana’s son Radwan Mujib Siddiq Bobby is a trustee of Awami League-run think tank Centre for Research and Information (CRI), her daughter Tulip Siddiq is a British MP.

Radwan, who is the publisher of ‘Mujib; a graphic novel, has also played an important role in the making of a docudrama — “Hasina: A Daughter’s Tale”. The docudrama is on Hasina and Rehana.

“The Prime Minister is very close to her sister and nephew but neither Rehana nor her son has ever indicated that they wanted to join active politics though they are mostly with Hasina,” Ahsan said.

Under Hasina, Bangladesh has grown significantly. In 2022-23, it registered a growth rate of 6.03 per cent, as per provisional estimate. The country is now gearing to exit the list of least developed countries (LDC) in 2026. Many have opined that with Wazed taking over from Hasina would ensure continuity of current policies.

Also read: How India-backed rail line to Bangladesh’s Mongla Port will lift trade in Bay of Bengal region