Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Why “No Thanks” to everyone?


NO THANKS for President Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed. Nobody was thanked either former President Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed, President Abdur Rahman Biswas, or President Professor AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, who had been forced to step down from the presidency following a disagreement with the then BNP government on the question of “principle.”

Thanks make a difference. Gratitude, thankfulness, or appreciation is one of our most fundamental human emotions. When we appreciate and support the great deeds of others - we feel good and boost the others to work harder. We never lost anything in appreciating others - instead we become a better person. Appreciating others will help us to enhance our skill; it will also boost the doers to contribute more for the good of the people. Cultivate a culture of appreciation, words of praise or thanks are important. But thanks were missing towards any of the past Chief Advisers of the caretaker governments including the most recent Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed. Whether it has been neutrally appreciated or not, the Election Commission of Bangladesh has been always accused by the loser party of being partial towards the winning part.

Though US President Barack H Obama inherited two wars and the worst economic conditions in three generations from former President George W. Bush when he took the oath of office on January 20, 2009, but he didn’t forget to thank his predecessor. “I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition,” Obama praised and nodded towards Bush at the very beginning of his inaugural speech.

In latest as it is regular in the Bangladesh’s politics, Awami League (AL) lawmakers in parliament on February 1, 2009, accused President Professor Iajuddin Ahmed as according to them, he violated the constitution and conspired against democracy in the last two years. But this time as it is seldom to see, people of Bangladesh experienced a different type of “no thanks” attitude while BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) -led opposition also accused and lashed out at President Ahmed with the same charge and even walked out of the Parliament ahead of his inaugural speech in protest against his failure to hold the ninth parliament elections within 90 days. And in a dramatic U-turn, BNP, which elected Iajuddin as President following AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury's resignation in June 2002, now wants him to be impeached.

President Iajuddin Ahmed, however in any sense, can stand accused of violating the constitution of Bangladesh. Under article 58C, President opted for the six and the last option of the provisions and assumed the office of the chief adviser (CA), in addition to being the president without exploring other alternatives, including popular non-political figures mentioned in the constitution after seeing the impasse as an opportunity and not succeeding with the first step which asserts “the immediate past chief justice will be the head of the caretaker government.” It is much clearer to everyone that he did it under the guidance of the BNP and its alliance and was cautiously welcomed by the Al-led 14 party alliance at the beginning of his concurrent functions both as President and CA.

Blaming President as traitor and violator of democracy, AL is adamant to keep the tradition of “not saying thanks” as regular as before in thanksgiving motion on his inaugural address to parliament. BNP, in addition, is in advance by proposing impeachment whether General Moeen U Ahmed revealed that President wasn’t able to do his job neutrally as he was guided by some unidentified quarters in his recently published book “Shantir Swapney.”

Although Bangladesh started its political journey with a parliamentary system right after independence, but it failed to sustain it. In late 1990, autocratic rule was ultimately defeated by a popular uprising and a general election was held on 27 February 1991. A truly representative House of the Nation (Jatiya Sangsad) thus came into being. But it was faded right after its inception. Regardless of which party was in power, the main opposition party boycotted most of the parliamentary sessions, alleging government repression and impediments to voicing its views. The 2006-2007 political crises and the state of emergency weren’t staged due to the President Iajuddin Ahmed. None of the political parties felt national interest and showed utmost patience to come under a common platform.

Practicing gratitude can change people by changing brains that are wired for negativity, for noticing gaps and omissions. But in 2001 after 8th general election, AL repeatedly criticized former President Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed of being biased towards BNP as they failed to clinch the ruling seats in the parliament and started practicing boycott of Parliament. But it doesn’t have anything to say about the 1996 Caretaker Government and the then government administration because it won a simple majority and formed a government. When BNP was in opposition, it too boycotted parliament.

Democracy is morally desirable at all. But it’s not for one to do whatever one chooses against society and get away with it. In this changing world and modern shape of democracy, people are now very much concerned about how a person or a group or a political entity behaves with each others. A living democracy is characterized by strong, well-functioning democratic institutions, by the exercise of public power with respect for human rights, by everyone having good opportunities for access, influence and demanding accountability, and an independent, broad range of voluntary associations, which were hardly found in Bangladesh. Since democracy is a collective decision process, responsibility for democracy does not reside only within the government alone, or within any individual person.

Although President Iajuddin Ahmed publically acknowledged that nobody is beyond criticism, but we are obviously not here to defend him whether he was under pressure or not as he is holding the country’s most respectable and significant post. We are worried about practicing “no thanks” culture in the politics of Bangladesh. The very mention of the word, thanks followed by mention of the word giving, creates along with them a spectacular vision that weaves good health, hope, peace, love, happiness, harmony and joy at all instances and in all contexts all across the universe which is so wonderful along with it’s tremendously wonderful and loving People.

Politics may be a thankless job. Certainly, there are some rules, regulations, and procedures by which a democratic accountability works in a parliamentary system. But the word “thanks” is a word where there is a bountiful accolade of abundant good wishes expressed and intended right from the heart. If we don’t start giving thanks right now, Zillur Rahman, who is a veteran AL leader and is set to be elected next President of Bangladesh on February 16, 2009, would be in line of next “no thanks” recipient. #

First published on February 4, 2009, New York

Ripan Kumar Biswas is a freelance writer based in New York. He could be reached at: