A prerequisite for sustainable democracy
Published : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017 at 12:00 AM
Politics is the noblest profession in the world though many might argue on that. A political leader devotes his life for the welfare of the people of his constituency as well as for the country. He works to ensure the basic rights — food, clothing, shelter, education, treatment of his people. But to keep this profession a noble one, there is no alternative of having good political leaders.
Bangladesh being a democratic country practices people’s participation in choosing their leaders or representatives through elections. Different parties place their candidates at different constituencies and people elect their leaders from the given ones. But the drawback of this system is that people are often bound to choose from those who are only nominated by different parties and in many cases good leaders fail to enter this process.
To establish sustainable democracy, it is required not only to establish voting rights of the people, but also to ensure that the good candidates are elected as people’s representatives. Though it is a highly challenging task, there is no way out of this to ensure proper democratic practices.
In simple words, a leader is a person who influences a group of people towards the achievement of a goal. A basic requirement of a leader is to go first and lead by example, so that others are motivated to follow him.
To be a leader, an individual must have an innate pledge to the goal that he will strive to achieve even if nobody follows him. There are two basic requirements of leadership; personal vision – the ability to visualize your goal as an accomplished fact and people – to be a leader, one must have followers and to have followers, one must have their trust.
A good leader should have some qualities or attributes which makes him distinguished from others in the society. Firstly and most importantly, a good leader must be a patriot or nationalist. He must be fully devoted to the interests of his country hence to the welfare of his fellow countrymen.
He must have complete loyalty towards the sovereignty of the nation. He must endorse the interest of the nation as the highest priority. Any compromise of the national interest will immediately disqualify him from the category of good leaders. Here it is mentionable that, the Jamaat-e-Islami leaders can never be considered as good leaders as they never believed in the sovereignty of Bangladesh as a nation.
A fine political leader must be honest. Being honest can sometimes be very difficult because it makes an individual vulnerable to the attacks of its oppositions. It discloses our mistakes, which gives others the opportunity to condemn openly.
But honesty builds reliability and conviction, which are the base to stir up confidence and respect from teammates and constituents.
Another important quality of a good leader is his compassion, understanding the suffering of others and vow to actions directed towards alleviating that suffering. Good political leaders must be sympathetic towards the problems of people and that helps him to determine the course of action that can bring the greatest benefit to everyone.
Integrity is another important attribute of a good leader. It refers to the adherence to moral and ethical principles; the soundness of moral character. It is a synonym for respectability and is the vital trait for those in political leadership. A leader must have the trust of followers which requires the utmost standard of integrity.
Flexibility for a political leader is about understanding the give-and-take aspects of politics, and the ability to find the common ground. Good politicians listen carefully to all parties involved in a conflict to learn what it will take to reach a consensus.
Farsightedness is another important feature of a good leader as he is required to visualize long term interests of the society. Along with this comes another quality — ability to plan. If he is not a good planner especially in terms of long range planning, he will not be able to take the country or his constituency forward.
A good leader will be truthful, disciplined and a good negotiator. He will utter the harsh truth without any fear of losing support of his followers or any other relevant groups. He will be disciplined and respectful towards law in leading his followers in achieving the goal of social welfare.
He will possess negotiation skill, a great quality of a good leader as he will encounter several conflicts among the constituents and need to convince them to reach a position of greater benefits.
Most importantly, a good political leader must have commitment towards his belief and cause, constituents, the society and the nation. He must be selfless. People’s welfare through development of the constituency and the country should be his only priority.
He cannot be involved with any other profession, personally beneficiary for him, from the time he stepped into politics. He should attain his family’s permission to get into politics as he will not work for increasing the wealth or position of himself or his family anymore rather for that of his constituents. He will devote his time, works and assets for the welfare of his people only. His wealth will not increase unless the wealth of his constituents increases.
These qualities will make a good political leader whom we should vote for. But we can realize that, it is very hard to find such leaders now-a-days. Most of our leaders became leaders by their might, terror or money leading our political system to get corrupt.
It is sometimes very difficult to judge these qualities among a leader though as voters, we must look into some matters before voting.
We must look into the education and skills of our leaders. They must possess at least post-graduate degree from reputed institutions. If our job market looks for this much educational requirement, the most critical job of the Member of Parliament cannot be any less.
They must have specialized or technical skill otherwise, he will not understand budget, foreign project etc and will fail to use those efficiently and effectively. They must have political skills too as they need to negotiate with domestic and foreign stakeholders regularly. Our leaders severely lack these qualities for which we suffer.
We must evaluate the past works of our leaders for the societal welfare that will reflect his commitment towards the community. If he was involved in voluntary works or social works which was not profitable for him rather for the society must be considered.
His role in soliciting past conflicts should be reviewed which depict his just behaviour and willingness of getting involved in the communal matters. If he has not worked for societal benefit or demonstrated strong commitment towards the social or communal works in the past, he will not drive for those after getting elected. So, we must consider those.
A potential election candidate’s political upbringing should also be considered. It will reflect his ideology, past associations, previous works, and the role of his mentors. It will show us for example; if he upholds the idea of nationalism or extremism. It is very important to know where he actually came from in terms of politics.
One most important thing is looking into his corruption records. If he has corruption charges, then he lacks most of the qualities of a good leader and must be immediately disqualified from the election. A corrupt leader can never put priority on the benefits of others and that is a simple fact which can never be altered.
The Election Commission has some set standards for the political leaders for participation in national election, but that does not strictly reflect any quality of good leaders. So, it becomes the people’s responsibility to ensure that, the good candidates participate in elections and the people vote for only them.
In democracy, we talk about ensuring voting rights. But there is no point of voting to elect a leader who will not serve or is not capable to serve the interest of the people or the nation. We are only getting candidates who will risk our future if we vote them.
We must reject then. Our people are mostly uneducated and politically unaware. Hence, they cannot realize the danger by voting for wrong candidates due to their affiliation towards a particular party, or fondness to the money of a candidate or fear of the terror of a candidate.
Ensuring voting rights should be the concern only when we have proper candidates who are good political leaders with clean track records and firm political background. Other than that, ignorant and unjust voting will only create havoc for our country.
So, we demand quality candidates from political parties for upcoming national election to enable us to utilize our voting rights to elect good democratic political leaders. Only then, we will be able to establish sustainable democracy in our beloved Bangladesh.The writer is the Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Vice-chairman, Democracy Research Centre (DRC)