Saints be careful! The conspiracy of de-politicization of 1975 creeping in Bangladesh
August 28th, 2020 at 11:37 pm
Saints be careful! The conspiracy of de-politicization of 1975 creeping in Bangladesh

by Omer Selim Sher in Ottawa,

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina is a political person. The four-time prime minister is in power for the third time in a row. But she is now more focused on administration (civil service) than politics. She has become more dependent on the administration than on politics, especially in dealing with various difficult situations, including the COVID-19 crisis and floods.

Although the AL is in the government, but its lack of political programs put the ruling party in a state of disarray. The country and the ruling party are surrounded by both internal and external enemies.  It is doubtful whether the party’s top echelons understand this threat. We can easily coin the phrase “Saints be careful”!

The leaders and activists of the Awami League are carrying out small political programs like distributing relief, which are very small considering such a big political party like the Awami League. However, this activity is not happening all over the country. Activities of all its affiliated organizations have somehow come to a near standstill.

Hasina's birthday
Bangladesh Awami League

The affiliated organizations have few or no work at all. The full committees of many affiliated organizations have not been announced yet. Dhaka is considered to be the heart of Bangladesh politics. The Awami League has two branches in the Dhaka metropolis – North and South. Although the two have a president and a general secretary, the full committee has not been announced yet. In this way, the party has gradually become apolitical. Just as the president of the Awami League is busy dealing with the country’s crisis rather than party activities, so the general secretary of the party is busy giving some video messages. Without this video message, none of his political activities are visible.

Some disoriented political leaders who failed to get party tickets in the last election are keeping the Presidium office and the party office on Bangabandhu Avenue. Some of their speeches, statements and limited social distance are the only means of the Awami League politics. The AL leaders now admit that the whole country is becoming disorganized. Leaders and activists are more interested in business than politics. This includes the nuisance of intruders into the party.

The situation of BNP is worse than that of Awami League. The Awami League also has a central committee. Few inanimate activities like tree planting has kept the AL party workers busy in someway. Some cadres are trying their best to keep the party alive, but the BNP does not have that either.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party

One only has to rely on the media to understand whether the BNP exists as a political party. If there was no television or media in Bangladesh, the organization called BNP would not exist. Party workers and ordinary leaders do not even know who is running the show in BNP as a political organization now. Central leaders including Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir have now become seasonal bird. Now they have no program except to peek at the television screen from time to time. The BNP leaders are questioned from within the party whether the BNP was a political organization once.

Needless to say, the two major political parties who were in power in last 36 years are in a state of disarray. The big question is whether there is a Jatiyo Party after the death of Hussain Muhammad Ershad. Jatiyo Party’s new chairman GM Quader is a gentleman. But everyone in the team admits that he is not a leader like making the team dynamic or being a hero to everyone in the team. On the other hand, everyone knows what Raushan Ershad wants.

The leftist political parties of Bangladesh got a chance to prove themselves at this time but could not use that opportunity. On the contrary, they too sinners for various kinds of money-making greed. People have no idealistic trust on them.

And the anti-independence Jamaat has now went in hiding and became a underground party. It is better not to talk about this anti-liberation party-which should be banned from all its activities.

In such a reality, Bangladesh has become a non-political (!)state. Businessmen and bureaucrats, including garment owners, are now more vocal than politicians. In a political government the show is run by the bureaucrats and businessmen. They are also making all political decisions.

Bangladesh parliament democracy
Bangladesh Parliament building

Now, at this point it seems there is no such political activities. Politics means that political ideology or political thought will be reflected in the activities of the government. Politics means that the opposition will give alternative programs based on the aspirations of the people. Something like that is not seen now.  Politics means that the leadership that has emerged from among the people will give a way of action for the future and will present the aspirations of the people in different places including in parliament.

As a result, the conspiracy of depoliticization began in 1975 can now be discussed whether it has been quietly implemented in Bangladesh. Because when a country has zero-some politics, the people become disenfranchised. Bureaucrats or businessmen use the state apparatus to protect their interests. Bangladesh is moving towards such a non-political state!

Omer Selim Sher is a retired Professor of Economics at Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada and a researcher on politics in South Asia.