25 May 2016

The dysfunctional politics of democracy in Bangladesh [Part 1]


This article can be found here.

No doubt, it is a disturbing fact that the BNP is in dire crisis. Almost 28 months after the unnecessarily boycotted general elections — when it receded to its worst political performance ever — the then-grand centre-right-wing party is in a state of drift. It appears confused about its next steps, and certainly bereaved of ideas for its renaissance.

It has now come up with a new manifesto called Vision 2030 to turn the country into a “rainbow nation” — sounds like a political parody for many of the poor fish who have supported BNP for longer than its current leadership.

Owing to the despotism and kleptocracy of the current AL regime, the BNP now barely exists as a functional political organisation.
The intra-party order has disintegrated. Many of the mid and younger generation leaders, those who are trying to emerge as Messiah within the party, are either seen as opportunist offshoots of dynastic politics or considered as the ones with the ability to pay cash to sit in the upper echelon of the party. That’s what I often get to hear.

Many of the grassroots activists are feeling the heat of being humiliated and betrayed. Apparently, the current leadership has the motto “save what you can while you can because things will get a lot worse before they get any better.”

It is in disarray; a once-great party reduced to battling rabbles of conflicting internal groups skulking for whatever canny comforts they can gain from politics.
Good politics, good governance, and good government? Very nice. But maybe not in the near future.
The notion that Khaleda Zia (or her son Mr Tarique Rahman) could again form a government with a majority is now a discommoding fact for the party at large.

At least, not through an election under the regime that is in power. Even so, one can begin to marvel at the thoroughness with which its leadership has set it on a self-destruction mode.

In fact, this is a case for the AL too. The son, Tarique Rahman, who has immense influence over the party and its sympathisers, is losing momentum as he is in self-imposed exile in London, while his flag-bearers are raging in fury for being oppressed by the law enforcers. No one is there to take care of these oppressed kormis (affiliates)!

It is not that BNP has a lack of helpers, of course.

The recently selected organising members of the party (through council and then by the top-most leader), members of its international affairs committee, or hence the members of its standing committee are willing accomplices. But who could have predicted these would prove as sub-optimal selections? These selections are pathetic enough to further derail the party. For instance, its members with responsibility to liaise with the international community are the compelling attestation of political incompetence, if not immaturity.Seems like the international affairs committee members would often need lessons on the difference between sedition and national interest.

I can’t deny that we get to see a fresh episode of the tragicomedy with BNP as the protagonist, every day in the name of democracy. Nevertheless, who dares predict what happens next?

Nothing is too improbable to be realistic now. Matters have reached such a state, that leaders of the BNP feel that they are unable to campaign even in a by-election in which the party could have won with a majority, if it had demonstrated some degree of political maturity. “Tacit alliance,” or “attempts to deny alliance,” or “be silent strategy” with Jamaat has only made things worse for the BNP. It is caught in a “Jamaat-extremist limbo” from which it has no easy exit anytime soon.

The only thing they hope to gain is the support of the Islamist and disfranchised voters at the moment, which may give them pro tempore comfort, but in the long run it will hit the nation (including them) hard.

Well, they may think that the ever-deteriorating law and order situation in Bangladesh is good for them, but this political hedonism won’t make them a favourite to their regional neighbours.

History speaks.

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