Friday, December 15, 2006

Question Time Bangladesh

SAROJ SHABAJ

Whither Bangladesh? Whether a peaceful election is going to be held on schedule? Whether all major political parties, alliances will participate? What will be the role of army already deployed much ahead of time? Are they going to take a neutral role? For peacekeeping purpose only, without showing bias to any political party? Is this election commission going to correct the voter list deleting the fakes and include the genuine ones, impartially? Will the genuine voters be allowed to vote freely? Are the pole and returning officers going to play fair? Will all the votes be counted correctly? Will the result reflect the correct voting? Whether the civil administration shall behave and ensure a free, fair and credible election process?

The most recent sensational resignation of four advisors of the non-party care taker Government have entrenched these questions and many others. Ex-advisor Shafi Sami said that, they had difficult times working with a shifting goal post. He pegged on it explaining the reason of their failure albeit they had nearly reached success line that could create environment for all party participation in the election process which now stands shrouded with doubt.

Anyways, that was the realization of the four advisors who had resigned after working almost half of the tenure of the CTG. In many but other words the 14 Party Combine had been indicating since long their doubt gathered around the expectation of a free, fair and credible election process. Days passing by and the raison d'etre of 31 point election reform proposal get firmer ground.

Ex-Law Minister Moudud Ahmed had admitted that about 41 items of the 31 point reform proposal which in fact constituted 51 tasks taking the sub-articles were valid and acceptable to them (4 Party Alliance Government) for reform, but with all his shrewdness when he had had the power as law minister to implement those but sat on the reform proposal for months together doing nothing.

The 4 Party Alliance Government was never sincere about reforms, be it for improvement of election process or for the democratic process as a whole. That in spite of their pre-poll manifesto they did not separate the judiciary from the executive, even refrained from holding upazila election to allow decentralization of power or regarding the appointment of human rights commission and ombudsman; all of which are those vivid examples. On the other hand, so that they could drive unfettered the rein of corruption they laid thick cobweb of bureaucratic conspiracy around the Anti Corruption Commission to make it dysfunction without steam during their five years tenure. In this way after once elected to power, one by one almost all the goal posts of election pledges had moved out of focus.

For this reason, from the beginning the 4 Party Alliance fixed their mindset up and doing but to manipulate the election process in favour of them with a predetermined aim by hook or by crook to get re-elected to power. Did they lose confidence on the people's vote or it is the drive of their guilty consciousness? These may be the reasons or many others. Or, may be the intelligence report in their hand is telling and compelling. May be these reports depicted in many words the voters mind, their reaction about the unprecedented corruption, miseries caused from unbridled price rise worked up by the politically sheltered business syndicate , lack of electric power and load-shedding or of sufferings of toll collection or of the litanies of those victimizations in business or service loomed out of partisan causes.

At the fag end of their tenure the 4 Party Alliance had been appealing to the people that if voted back to power one more time they will curb corruption as they had shown success in arresting the Islamic militants Shayekh Abdur Rahman and Siddikul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, et al. Also they were making fresh promises that while during this tenure they had successfully constructed thousands of kilometres of power lines so similarly during their next tenure they will set up sufficient numbers of power generation units to mitigate misery of load-shedding.

Alongside the statement of the ex-power minister Talukder alleging that about 6000 crores of Takas were misappropriated from the procurement of poles for construction of those thousand kilometres of power line but the power generation unit business had no scope of such undue dividend as such the procurement process regarding power generation units were out of interest of the regime; even the simpleton voter who suffered and witnessed these misdeeds could have read between the lines of manifest hollowness of these pre-election rhetoric’s.

While talking to the members of the Doctors Association of Bangladesh, Begum Khaleda Zia in her speech once again made the latest repetition of her claim that the price hike of essentials have no such serious adverse effect on people's purse as the purchasing power of the public has increased during last five years `flood of development' but the media is unnecessarily exaggerating the problem for making it an issue for the opposition political parties. The naivety and cruelness expressed through this statement was unprecedented. By doing so not only Khaleda Zia exposed her connivance with the vested interest of the profiteering business syndicate but also uncovered her direct connection with the scheme of election manipulation.

Is it a surprise? After the four advisors resigned finally needing re-induction, President Iajuddin gave two specific conditions for the fresh incumbents. "Thou shall not differ from the decision of the Chief Advisor", number one, and "Thou shall not make any proposal by yourself except Chief Advisor who makes proposals", numbers two. No wonder at the behest of Hawa Bhaban, four such backboneless reptiles have slipped in yesterday into Bangabhaban for Iajuddin's rescue. This is preposterous. I think at least one of the new advisors has left his conscience at home in his closet for a month and a half just to suffer for his mildness which he is used to. About the other three I am sure they have nothing to shed as they do not carry one of that something called conscience. At this point of time, question time Bangladesh suggests, you should not have any questions. Scrap them off from papers and lips. Enjoy the show, which must go on!

I wonder if every Bangladeshi shall become "ostriches" and endorse return of `Hawa Bhaban syndicate' of corruption alongside the long dressed disguised godfathers of the militant brand of Islamism. Will the Bangladeshi Army deployed ahead of schedule to maintain law and order shall fall in line with Bangabhaban to get Bangladesh engulfed with the ocean of corruption and the cocoons of militant Islamism? What the 600,000 members of civil administration engaged in the election process will be doing about the election process? And then, which report the election observers will be writing? How much money will be spent to disjoint the conscience of these people at least temporarily? Is it for that the 6000 Crore Taka was collected and saved from the overpriced poles of the power line constructed without energizing them with power, as Talukder said?

Tyranny is made of sterner stuffs! But the irony is, always the tyrannical system have underestimated, undermined the power of the victims of their depredations. This time the goal of the struggle is clear and visible. Diversionist attempt of shifting goal posts is not going to work as this time the goal keeper has made him exposed and identified. Only the ball need a hit hard enough to take the goalkeeper and the ball touch the net. The full team of brain and muscle is needed for this strong a hit. United we win, divided we fall – it is not just an old adage but the universal reality for today and all the times to come. #

Dhaka, December 13, 2006