Monday, February 26, 2007

Level playing field for everyone in Bangladesh politics


‘There is no way I can stay away from politics after getting your immense response and I am determined to serve for country’s democracy, ideals of liberation war and to deprive poverty,’ said Nobel laureate for peace in 2006 and the founder of a microfinance empire Dr. Muhammad Yunus with full enthusiasm while declaring the name and objectives of his new political party in Bangladesh at Zia International Airport, Dhaka on Saturday, February 17, 2007.

Giving the name of his party 'Nagorik Shakti’ (Citizens' Power), the blue-eyed boy promised and hoped to practice true democratic culture with the help of people of Bangladesh. His attempt to restore low-down democracy in Bangladesh will obviously bring a mighty attack in the present political combat as there was only a violence-prone contest between two rival political parties, Sheikh Hasina, of the Awami League and Begum Khaleda Zia, of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

By giving slogan for his new venture ‘Advance Bangladesh,’ professor Yunus briefly described some of his political objectives. According to them, one of the major objectives is a clear warning for those who violate laws whether in his party or not. Every Bangladeshi would be happy to have a lawful country. Meanwhile, he urged the people to form 'primary preparation team' with 20 people each and set up the office for the political party and communications center to take part the upcoming election fray.

Before going to politics, he tried to get public interest about his political intention through a letter to the nation in which according to him got a huge positive response. After forming his brand new political party, he thanked every Bangladeshi to support him through another letter. According to the media in Bangladesh, Dr. Yunus consulted with the Chief Adviser of the present interim government of Bangladesh about his intention to throw a letter to know public opinion to form a new political party while the country is now passing under emergency.

On January 11, 2007, president professor Iajuddin Ahmed of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh proclaimed emergency in the country. The Emergency Powers Rules 2007 was framed under the Emergency Powers Ordinance 2007, promulgated by the president on January 12, 2007.

According to the rules besides other restrictions, the government has banned political and trade union activities, student-teacher politics and politics by government employees and professional bodies, speech, statement, procession and demonstration related to politics. In case of violation of the restrictions, the offenders will face a maximum of five years or a minimum of two years rigorous imprisonment along with fines.

Many of us are very much familiar with one of the judgment of Prophet Muhammad towards a little boy who liked to eat a lot of sweets whereas his father was not rich to provide him sweets every day as he was poor. Muhammad told the little boy to control his demand for sweets after one week from their first visit as prophet himself had to control his appetite towards sweets.

We mightn’t capable to follow the moral ethics all the time but we can’t expect others to follow until we follow. Due to emergency in Bangladesh, is it possible even for Dr. Yunus to go beyond law while one of his political objectives is to follow law and rules?

Dr. Muhammad Yunus is not now simply a name, it’s an institute and the next generation of Bangladesh will follow this institute. This institute shouldn’t be disputed by any way. But question has been raised at the very first step of his political journey. While other political parties in Bangladesh are not permitted to practice their political activities, professor Yunus seems beyond the emergency restrictions. And unfortunately, the people of Bangladesh need to raise the same question once again, the level playing field.

The democratic journey of Bangladesh didn’t come so easily. Bangladesh has had long periods of military rule after nine months of bloody war with Pakistan in 1971. Although the present existing parties in Bangladesh became too much corrupted, but people of Bangladesh smelled the democracy with the big interest of existing political parties in 1991 and toppled the dictator president General Hossain Muhammad Ershad. So it’s obviously not fair to ignore their contribution towards country’s democratic journey.

Last couple of months, people of Bangladesh became happy to see the end of corrupted politicians being detained and expelled. They didn’t feel bad when political parties were permitted conditionally to celebrate Last International Mother Language Day.

But when the questions are about law, democracy, equal rights, fair judgment and anti-corruption movement, everyone should be treated equally by the present interim government of Bangladesh.

In a recent visit in Bangladesh, like others, leading American Congressman Steve Chabot made it very clear that people of Bangladesh will determine the political career of Dr. Muhammad Yunus as they are the judge to consider him equally successful in politics like his arena of micro-credit. It’s not easy to enter into the heart of the people of Bangladesh as a politician. To do so, the micro-finance pioneer must not be disputed otherwise the result will be remain same like other politicians.

Although it’s a view of some other political opponents and not even a partial view of Bangladesh to consider Dr. Muhammad Yunus polemical to deliver the convocation address at Dhaka University scheduled for February 28, 2007, it’s not a good start for his political career. In addition, giving him ‘Doctor of Law’ (honoris causa) is being vehemently opposed by those opponents.

As people of Bangladesh consider Nobel laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus as an institute, a man beyond any disputation, an ideal follower of law and order and the third eye during any national crisis, he should aware to confirm level playing field for everyone. #

Ripan Kumar Biswas is a freelance writer based in New York