Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Don't be dazed and confused over Yunus's recent statements

A.H. JAFFOR ULLAH

Please do not be dazed and confused over Dr. Yunus's soliloquy. He is merely acting out his role in the drama.

Do you care to know that Dr. Yunus met Fakhruddin in Jamuna House, the CA’s residence, on February 10 (Saturday) for hour and half (7 to almost 9:00 pm)? The information secretary of the CA, Syed Fahim Munim, was unaware of this unscheduled meeting between the two. But Ajker Kagoj, one of the leading vernacular newspapers in Bangladesh, reported that they received information about the meeting from Jamuna House source. No body knows what they talked about. I am characterizing this meeting as an unscheduled one or else the CA's information secretary would have known about it.

Think for a moment, if Hasina or Khaleda would have met Dr. Fakhruddin in Jamuna House, it would be talk of the town. But Dr. Yunus is immune from public scrutiny. He has certainly earned this distinction through his work for ostensibly removing poverty from Bangladesh.

Dr. Yunus is a very influential person in Bangladesh and there is no doubt whatsoever about it. After returning from his ten-day trip, he announced it before the press right at the airport that he is now mentally ready to join the politics. I am very surprised that the authority allowed him to talk about it in public because no one is allowed to talk about politics in public as per some guidelines published in newspaper by the government in the aftermath of the declaration of emergency. If any other person in Bangladesh would have mentioned that he or she wanted to float a party at this time, he or she could have landed in jail. But it is a different matter with Prof. Yunus who could get away with committing a murder in Bangladesh, to speak metaphorically, of course.

On January 31, 2007, Dr. Yunus have said that he does not feel comfortable being in politics but he thought if masses want him to join politics, then he will do so. After returning from his recent trip to India and Bahrain, in the airport he openly said that he thought he is mentally prepared to immerse him in politics. However, the caveat is that he does not want to be the ceremonial figure head - the president. Clearly, he is indicating that he wants to be an elected Prime Minister.

Yes, merely by observing what was going on in Bangladesh in the wake of emergency, and especially how our Nobel laureate was behaving publicly, saying inane things, it was becoming increasingly clear that the power behind this interim government is supporting a third force to contest in the up-coming election and legitimately come to the power. This is the blueprint of Lt. General Moeen U. Ahmed and the military establishment.

To figure out what is going to happen tomorrow in the political front in Bangladesh, all one has to do is watch Dr. Yunus with who he talks and what he says to the press. There is however serious inconsistency in what Dr. Yunus had said thus far. In December 2006 when the masses all over Bangladesh protested against the staging of one-sided election on January 22, 2007, Dr. Yunus sided with the BNP leaders while demanding that the election be held on January 22 rain or shine. He thought that this demand for holding election within 90 days after caretaker government is sworn is glued to the constitution of Bangladesh. But now he is saying that the second caretaker government does not have to hold the election anytime soon. There is a serious doubt about the legitimacy of a caretaker government under emergency. The concept of caretaker government as I understand is applicable to normal time. However, the concept of a caretaker government under emergency rule is not within the purview of Bangladesh constitution. I have never seen Dr. Yunus criticizing this infringement of the constitution. Don’t get me wrong, I merely thought he is an ardent defender of constitution; however, now he is openly condoning the gross violation of the constitution and this hardly ruffles feather in him.

Oh, one more thing about Dr. Yunus, which needs elaboration. This is very odd that Dr. Yunus had excoriated the politicians with his blanket statement that all politicians in Bangladesh are it for money. If there is an ounce of truth in it, then one would assume that Dr. Yunus would distance himself from politics. But then, Dr. Yunus says one thing but his action does not jibe with his statement. Whatever prestige he had earned in Bangladesh through his work on poverty alleviation by implementing micro-credit loan to poor women, he is now about to fish in trouble water. It is an adage very popular in Bengal that to fish water one has to wade through water. In all possibilities, our Nobel laureate is going to get wet. Politics in Third World nation by nature is not a clean spectator’s sports and he should think twice before joining the same.

Taking all these recent development concerning Dr. Yunus into account, I am very certain that a conspiracy is being hatched in the corridors of power afforded by the military, Chief Advisor, council of advisors, leaders of the so-called Civil Society to block political parties from assuming power in Dhaka. Whether Dr. Yunus has joined the conspiracy unwittingly or not, is a subject of debate. The drama is not finished yet; therefore, look for other actors to join the play. You never know what might open. The politics of Bangladesh is as capricious as Dr. Yunus. Therefore, stay tuned for more to come. #

Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans, USA