Friday, October 25, 2013

Monday formula: Who drafted Khaleda Zia press statement?

SALEEM SAMAD

When all the talkshows in TV channels were busy arguing the most talked about proposal by opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia, whether it was a Bible for the solution of ominous political crisis, some discreetly asking who have drafted the statement read out at the Monday press conference, dubbed “Monday formula”.

The sense of political crisis felt by 'mango people' cannot be denied. What is going to happen(?) is a repeated question asked by people at tea-stalls, public transports and seeking opinion of sob janta office colleagues and friends.

A question remains unknown – who has actually drafted the Monday formula for the chief of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)? Why some people are asking this question, because Khaleda and her senior party leader’s statements in the past couple of weeks has not been reflected in the written statement at press conference.

A day earlier, Khaleda roared not to participate in election under Hasina and would continue her struggle for caretaker government, also declared to be lone-crusader even if she is alone to achieve the goal.

If you browse newspapers headlines what the party leaders have said, it could be found that their words and plans has not been echoed in the statement for the media.

Then who has drafted the half-hearted statement, remains a mystery even to many party leaders. BNP insiders do not claim to bemused to hear the Monday formula to the nation. The formula was not mooted at the party meeting, nor has the statement been endorsed at the helms of affairs of the party leadership. Not to mention of the sharing the Monday formula with the 18-party alliance led by BNP.

None of the leaders interviewed formally and informally by curious news reporter of both print and broadcast media, the party leaders could give a clue what is going to be said at the press conference. Despite hiccups the central leaders have less room to digest nor argue the erroneous issues crept into the Monday formula.

BNP leaders have doubts that it was drafted by former principal secretary also present adviser to party Chairperson. Why do they doubt that a bureaucrat has its hand in preparing the draft? Because the Monday formula has gross lapses and the independent Daily Star attributes the lack of political foresightness to poor home work regarding proposed formation of a polls-time administration by selecting 10 advisers from the 1996 and 2001 caretaker governments.

The popular English newspaper Daily Star concludes that given the country’s ongoing political impasse, many political analysts believe it will be almost impossible for the two political archrivals to reach an agreement over the polls-time government.

Some doubts that the beleaguered son of Khaleda Zia exiled in England has penned the outline of the draft from his ‘bilatee hawa bhaban’.

Why the finger has been pointed towards him? A simple logic is that the recent speeches and statements by Tarique Rahman have been embedded in the Monday formula. His rationalisation to ease relationship with neighbours, denouncing terrorism, good governance and apologetic approach to sensitive issues shadowed into the statement. His political foresight has been overtly reflected in the election pledges in the Monday formula.

On the other hand, the political scientists interprets that the meeting between the United States officials and Tarique was an “ice-breaking” event. This meeting took place in the wake of the U.S. diplomatic cable leaked by the Wikileaks in September 2011 that America considered Tarique as a “symbol of violence”.

Tarique’s “flagrant disregard” for the rule of law had provided potent ground for terrorists to gain a foothold in Bangladesh while also exacerbating poverty and weakening democratic institutions, mentioned the cable.

Despite the image of Tarique, her mother Khaleda Zia has left no stone to use good offices of European Union, United States, Britain, India, Japan and Canada to exert diplomatic pressure on Sheikh Hasina’s government not to harass Tarique on his return to the country. Yet no green signal has been switched from glowing red light.

Most political observers and civil society argues that based on past performances of Khaleda Zia, who was thrice prime minister and twice leader of the opposition, they do not trust her. Notwithstanding the political impasse there is a need for post-mortem of her political pledges stated in the Monday formula.


Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow (USA) is an independent journalist and writes for international press. Email