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A Murky Affair and Bangladeshi Politics

March 18, 2012

March could have been a game-changer for BNP led opposition alliance. Instead, it has become a fate changer for BNP! The month kicked off with anxiety, fear and uncertainty. Rival political parties chose street to flex their political muscle. Street agitation is quintessence of Bangladeshi Politics!

Opposition alliance called their party supporters to show up in Dhaka on March 12. Many feared Islamist cadres within the alliance could carry out subversive activities and could establish anarchy, which they did in recent past on January 11, in a bid to hamper the ongoing trial of war criminals. Earlier this year on January 11, opposition alliance called a reception of freedom fighters, scheduled to take place at 3 P.M. in Dhaka, but they started the day setting fire on bus, which left 1 dead. What a manifestation of skullduggery!

Ahead of March 12, Awami League (AL) led Grand Alliance took a harder stance against any subversive activities but wisely decided a different day, March 14, for their meeting. Exchange of angry words between the two parties continued unabated. The capital city was gripped with fear as March 11 neared. People feared that the acrimony could degenerate into violent clashes on March 12.

Law-enforcement agencies detained some miscreants with arms and petrol bombs. And on the eve of March 12, entry of Dhaka–bound buses and launches was restricted. The opposition gathering of March 12 was held but rival party activists fought pitched battle in various parts of the country. One thing was clear from this gathering is that it was not a true manifestation of esprit de corps and those who joined the party meeting, keeping aside the hardliners and the fanatical few, rendered a ‘limb service’, motivated by cash and future concessions. Khaleda Zia ended her venomous speech by giving an ultimatum of 30 days to restore the caretaker government.

Some political commentators in TV talk shows indicated that the opposition leader would want to build up a mass movement against the incumbent party and would want to bring down the party before completing its tenure. To many, this is a surprise move from a pseudo democratic party. Unlike Awami League that is deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of grass-root people, BNP was born in cantonment and the party is not completely au fait with mass movement.

After that meeting came the blow! Awami League led Grand Alliance , in response, organized another mass gathering and accused Khaleda Zia of taking cash from ISI. A confession made by the former DG of ISI Asad Durrani in Pakistani Supreme Court not only endangers the political career of Khaleda Zia but casts doubt on BNP’s survival. It shocked many dedicated leaders and supporters of the party. The incident was first reported by a Pakistani journalist several years ago and the recent confession brought the matter under the light and revealed the whole murky affair.

Veteran politician Tofael Ahmed often argues that the fate of Bangladeshi politics is no longer decided by the local politicians. The ISI connection indicates that his claim has some substance. This incident partly explains why Bangladeshi politics is often plagued by political stalemate. It also shows up that Pakistanis are still avenging the defeat of 1971 by doling out cashes to the head of a major political party.

Initially, the party leaders will protest the claim, but later they could, one by one, scrap or leave BNP.

Should Awami League indulge in the comfort that it is now the sole player of Bangladeshi politics? Certainly not! Indeed this confession is a fatal blow to a party that is built on the personality cult of a former agent turned dictator and the myth of the founder of multi-party democracy. Its fate lies in the hands of the Big Brother who is the master of balancing game! The traumatized BNP could live alone or with a bracketed extension after its acronym. Or, the party supporters will join either a brand new party or one of the parties similar to BNP. In a military installed democracy, there are many political parties like BNP. They will join one or form one that best serves the interest of post-75 establishment. Do not forget, this establishment owns 60%-70% of the lucrative businesses of Bangladesh, a study by Dhaka University professor Abul Barkat revealed this fact. They will definitely need a political platform to safeguard their interests.

Awami League will have to be more careful as it enters the last phase of its tenure. During this phase, it will see a lethargic and less receptive administration that will be less interested to implement its policies. Corrupted officials will reassess the political situation, will reset their priorities and will align with the opposition party, here opposition means BNP or a brand new party! Within the AL, over-enthusiasts and rogue intruders will try to misguide and embarrass the party through their (mis)deeds and will abandon it at the opportune moment.

An attempt of making a level-playing field for the opposition, again here the opposition means BNP/BNP (post scandal) or a brand new party, will be made by disseminating reports on the corruption and human rights records of AL’s current tenure through NGOs like TIB. A right-wing University teacher already indirectly indicated that in a TV talk-show.

How will Awami League deal with such vicious campaign? The answer is simple. Address the issues of corruption proactively. Proactive approach is the best approach to undermine the reactionary forces. Take actions against the corrupted officials, settle down disputes with journalists, stop listening to overenthusiasts, deliver pending election promises, which are deliverable at this stage, and hold accountable rogue intruders and trigger-happy personnel.

Be strong like an oak in the face of overwhelming odds!

Remember—- neither the rogue intruder nor the corrupt official is accountable to the people, Awami League as a party is accountable to the people!


From → Analysis

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