Monday, June 06, 2005

After the drama

Politics took a turn towards the bizarre and, true, to the media age, it was all captured on camera. While we remain fascinated by the drama of it all, there may be far more important fallout for the political scene. The Jatiyo Party of Mr. H.M. Ershad, military ruler during the eighties, had been looking like the kingmaker of any future regime. It does not garner many votes but its power comes from the concentration of those votes in particular northern constituencies. The local people are eternally grateful for the economic largesse bestowed on them from the coffers of central government. JP has been looking like they could make an impact in the next election, with the critical mass for the smaller parties and individuals to coalesce around.
The regime’s main fear is the possible formation of an Awami League-Jatiyo party alliance. The arithmetic of votes and seats look pretty frightening on paper.

Of course, this could now go the other way. JP could be persuaded to join up with the BNP. The union of two military-born parties makes electoral sense. They can unite on a nationalist platform, or perhaps thinly disguised anti-India platform. They can either ditch or keep the Islamic component of the alliance. The only reason to ditch the Jamaat would be to seek “the blessing” of some embassies. Sacrificing Jamaat would not be too difficult, as the Islamic forces have no other place to go to, electorally speaking. Whether in or out of any alliance, the small Islamic vote bank would have to support a BNP-Jatiyo combine.

Missing the real issues
All this speculation is fine for living room gossip and we can amuse ourselves with endless combinations and permutations. No doubt, there will be more drama ahead of us, though perhaps with a bit more dignity and poise.
This farce has to end. While this has played across the newspapers, millions in the capital have been going without water and electricity. The government has made no statement about the two crises and not shown us what they are doing about it.
While the leaders and sycophants are playing electoral politics, the people are being denied basic services. Food prices are going through the roof and will prove to be a major issue at the polls.
One has to question whether the leadership of the Big Two parties in Bangladesh have the finger on the pulse. I am not convinced. They are not doing anything that points to the contrary. The opposition has no clue on how they are going to turn the economy around while the government is diverted by electoral machinations.
If one real issue is the day-to-day struggle of its people, the other big issue is the position of Bangladesh on the global scene. As Singapore Telecom shows, there are quite a few multinationals having a peek at the potential of this 150 million strong economy (even if many are only interested in 15 million with the necessary spending power). Foreign companies and their donor colleagues are more than a little exasperated by the small-minded politics on display. They can spot an opportunity and cannot believe that the Big Two cannot get their act together. Their constant refrain is for the politicians to join Parliament, and make a show of a functioning democracy. Plus provide the stability through ombudsmen, a separate judiciary and enhanced property rights. Politicians would still be able to make money but without killing the golden goose.
This neat analysis has been played a thousand times through their sponsored seminars. The propaganda has worked since a few people seem to think this is all that is needed to reach 7% economic growth and be branded an economic tiger – and, um, provide 2 million new jobs a year, every year, and cope with 80 million people jamming the cities in ten years’ time! If it were only that simple.
What is the growing influence of foreign business and how will they push their agenda?

Out with the old and in with the New?
Are we witnessing the last few years of Old Politics? If there is another election, will it be decisive? Or will it lead to weak coalitions, falling apart at the onset of the first crisis? Whatever the combination or alliance, they will not get the true mandate of the people and will not get the basics right, once in office. After all, the politics of money dictates that the criminals need a payback after the election.
Too many people are getting carried away with the election cycle and are likely to be mightily disappointed with any new administration. Surely we are not expecting the same ageing political leaders to suddenly change and provide mature leadership? Their track record suggest otherwise, even if they have memorised the words to the song “Good Governance”………..
All the current talk of a national consensus seems hollow given that no “Big Idea” is being offered and the proponents are all from the old school. We do need unity and we do need direction. But where will it come from?
Something has to give.


Anonymous Shariar Zaman said...

The entire game is being played as laid out by BNP. They have become a fascist circle of conspirators operating through Eajuddin-the servile peon at Khaleda's disposal. They know that the only way to hang on to power is through fraud, lies and damned lies.

Eajuddin's son has indulged in rampant corruption. So Khaleda now has protect her son and Iajuddin's too.

Ershad has done nothing in comparison to Khaleda, her sons and cronies. Billions of dollars have been taken out of the state treasury by the Zia dynasty. Khaleda and her coterie should be behind bars for a thousand years.

The fascist BNP and Islamic fundamentalist Jamaat doesn't want the opposition to participate in a free and fair election. So they are now using all their cards to frustrate The Mega-Alliance of AL-JP-LDP.

Hypocrisy can never win. If you are with them you can escape the gallows but if you shun them you can have cases framed and executed at the high court in less than an hour!

Both the Chief Justice and Iajuddin should be held responsible for being a party to the evil conspiracy hatched at Hawa Bhaban to rig the 2007 elections. The CJ shamelessly brought false charges against the most reputed lawyers of the country to please Khaleda.

Ultimately, truth shall prevail and the liars and cheaters wil be swept away in a landslide.

8:32 pm  
Anonymous Mahtab Ahmad said...

I fully agree.

BNP-Jamaat murderers, smugglers and killers must be wiped out.

8:35 pm  

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