Most of us call the politics in Bangladesh very dirty now-a-days. We often hear that, the gentlemen do not get involved in politics. This is because of the tendency of throwing darts at each other which has become the characteristics of Bangladeshi politics in recent years.
The ruling party and the opposition parties several times got into the acts of demeaning each other by calling bad names and unconstructively criticizing one another. It is required to practice constructive evaluation of the activities of the government or the opposition — but if something good does not come out of that engagement then it becomes useless and annoying.
The politics of Bangladesh has turned into a disturbing matter for many due to the endless bad faith and acrimony among today’s politicians.
The ruling Awami League and the largest opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are very much focused on destroying the reputation of each other. BNP leaders ritually talk ill of any decision of the government and that also not in a constructive manner. They are focused on regaining power, but they hardly come out to stress any pro-people issue.
They don’t come on the streets for their own reasons, blaming police actions, arrests and atrocities. But they never miss on criticizing the government and issuing rhetoric threats of toppling the government. So far they have proved wrong and fragile as a political entity.
Their so-called agenda of saving the democracy has proved to be a hoax as they badly failed to connect with the people due to their absence on establishing people’s rights.
Almost everyday, they provide a statement from their party office which is all about disrespecting the government leaders as well as hyping on BNP’s dream of seizing power. But, they seem not too worried about the welfare of the people.
However, in reality, the BNP still remains grounded with Chairperson Khaleda Zia and Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman being apparently blind-track amid utter frustration in the party’s rank and file.
Ruling Awali League is not much different either. Their leaders are also disrespectful to the leaders of opposition parties. They attacked them personally though the AL chief Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been pretty composed. She avoids making any personal attack on her rivals, let alone Khaleda Zia.
Rather she constructively criticized BNP’s “unholy” alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami, which is very much known for its crimes against humanity during the War of Independence — and later attempts to save their war criminal leaders from the gallows.
Actually, the dirty state of today’s politics has been drawn in the backdrop of the formation of Jamaat-BNP alliance. On both sides of the political divide, personal attacks are a very common phenomenon.
And this does not provide any good vibe for the people of Bangladesh and discourages any intellectual or capable person to get involved in the national politics, which could have benefitted the people and country.
There has been enmity among the political parties throughout the world. If we look at developed countries, we will observe strong criticism of the political parties in their parliaments. They challenge every decision of the government in a constructive way and make strong arguments over different bills. Differences do happen but resolved in parliament — not by rowdy elements or law enforcers sans respect for law.
We normally don’t see a political party throwing mud at others, except for few South Asian countries. The nastiest encounter might have been the recent US election campaigns where the camps of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton became very attacking on each other.
That was due to some acts of Republican Donald Trump, who actually was never a politician and lacks that talent by far. Other than that, the debates and “clashes” were confined to the parliament and almost never got out of that building.
In our neighbouring countries, there are also political enmities. Like, in India the political parties are very vocal and they do not restrain themselves from criticizing any shortcomings of their rivals at all. Many times, large scandals come out in light when gross irregularities are exposed. Whenever that happens, the opposition jumps over the ministry under which the irregularities are committed. But the attack never becomes personal.
In such a large country like India, political killings or violence are much lower than in Bangladesh. The two main parties, Congress and BJP, display extreme tolerance even at the heated moments — keeping in mind the sanctity of parliament, need for good governance and welfare of the people. That is driving the development in multi-racial India.
The scenario of Bangladesh politics was always not like it is now. There had been mutual respect among the political leaders in spite of their differences in ideology and views. The clash of ideologies existed even long before the independence.
But, history will always cherish the picture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman showing respect to Moulana Bhasani. History will always remember the respect that Ziaur Rahman had portrayed for Bangabandhu. Those were the beauties of politics.
When Khaleda Zia became the first prime minister of Bangladesh, she along with her two sons went to Tungipara to pay homage at the tomb of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Political harmony existed in a spirit of fair play.
Five years later, Awami League came into power and Sheikh Hasina became the Prime Minister. Political harmony was intact then too as we have seen both Shekh Hasina and Khaleda Zia meeting in several programmes and making cordial gestures at each other. But, the scenario changed soon.
In 2001, the BNP came to power again with its newly formed alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami, a fundamentalist party that opposed independence from Pakistan and helped the Pakistan occupation army to carry out ‘genocide’ in what was then East Pakistan.
Many of the top leaders of Jamaat were directly involved in war crimes for which they were later convicted and punished. With Jamaat’s entry in the national politics and winning two key portfolios in Khaleda Zia’s cabinet, politics started to get dirty.
On 21st August, 2004 there happened a grenade attack at an anti-terrorism rally intending to kill Sheikh Hasina, then leader of opposition. Though she survived, 23 lives were lost including AL Women affairs chief Ivy Rahman and around 200 others were wounded.
That event destroyed the political harmony in Bangladesh as it seeded the tree of betrayal and mistrust into the politics of our country. This cowardly act was done by the Jamaat-e-Islami to fulfil a BNP agenda, it is alleged.
Later during the period of caretaker government in 2007 and onwards, mistrust spread among the political leaders and a different face of them was uncovered which portrayed lack of loyalty and commitments even towards someone’s own party. Later Sheikh Hasina’s government came to power in the election held in December 2008 and since then she is in office for a second consecutive five-year term. The next election is due late 2018 or early 2019.
Over past eight years parliament has been a one-party (AL) show with a petite opposition, the Jatiya Party, being absolutely inactive or had nothing to do with its few members. However, attempts were made at times by the BNP and its allies to settle their political scores on the streets, but were foiled by the police.
Yet, political acrimony soared further amid volleys of personal attacks on rivals and blaming the government for anything “bad” or lacking. The AL gives no damn to BNP’s shouting rather concentrates on the next election hoping to achieve a third term in power.
Bangladesh, being a developing country, has huge prospect as we have improved on several development parameters rapidly in the recent years. We have excelled in maintaining communal harmony for years which have been exemplary to the whole world. We have been praised and applauded for our improvement with so many challenges.
But, one thing that is seriously lacking is the healthy politics and political harmony which could take Bangladesh several notched up on the global index of developing countries. Considering the upcoming national election, tolerance should be practiced by the political parties as there will be huge risk of violence otherwise.
Political peace is mandatory as that directly contributes to the development of any economy. Bangladesh chasing its Vision 2021 and 2041, and she will be successful only if the political parties are in accord and their only priority is the welfare of Bangladesh. We hope our political leaders will set examples of mutual respect and come out of politics of vengeance and work together for the development of Bangladesh.
The author is the Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA)