Is the AL seriously losing the plot? If you look at the way the party has tried to do damage control after Joy’s faux pas about having information that the next election will be won by the AL, one wonders why elections are held if they are already decided. It certainly doesn’t resemble a political party of maturity let alone a ruling one. How can this be happening to it unless the party leadership just don’t know what’s going on or what to do next? In the process of managing a bad situation, they are looking like political novices. The BNP doesn’t have to do much. The AL on its own is quite capable of losing the election.
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The statement by Sajeeb Wazed Joy that he had information that the party was going to come to power could only have been made by a person who neither understands politics nor a great deal of Bengali and maybe lacks a bit in the common sense sector as well. To say this while the opposition is demanding elections under the caretaker system fearing rigging, defies explanation.
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Well ok, people say many things and after Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir’s ‘norachora’ theory, very few utterances can outdo it. We could have forgotten Joy, but in stepped Md. Hanif, the Awami League’s ‘attack man’ who clarified that what the PM’s son meant was if the inactive workers of the party became active they would win the election. Of course it made no sense but since nobody expects Hanif to make sense it didn’t matter much. But then stepped in the PM herself and that’s when it began to look like a ‘situation’.
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But it didn’t stop at that. Hasina defended her son Joy by saying, “Joy said one thing; he said that on the basis of survey and poll.” Hasina said a ‘survey report’ showed that the Awami League is in advance in the ‘opinion poll’ and people still have their faith and confidence in the party. “As per the survey, Awami League will secure good result in the next (general) election and will be in power again.”
The PM didn’t bother to mention which survey this was and who conducted it and if it was a credible one and how come no one knows anything about it. If anything all the surveys taken are pointing to a poor performance by the AL. But of course it was a mother talking and we can take that as well.
But Syed Ashraful Islam, the party general secretary now has said that he has no specific information but he is smelling victory. It’s this one that is the most disconcerting because he is one of the most sober members of the party. If he smells something like victory in times of confusion and electoral loss, something could very well be happening.
And what could that be?
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When four top people of a political party say four different things about something as important as the possible victory in the coming national election, it doesn’t smell nice. It’s either amazingly inept or downright conspiratorial and we don’t know what it actually is. If one looks at the AL’s recent record, it seems they really don’t have any control over the situation and things do happen to them which make them look bad. Just think of the Reshma episode and you will get a feel. But while the stunt backfired because public trust in such stunts is low and the event itself was so absurd, what is there to stop them from consulting each other on such a sensitive issue as the PM’s son’s statement which could have political fallout. Don’t they talk or consult each other?
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Meanwhile, the BNP of course is having a field day and screaming ‘conspiracy’ and you can’t blame them. When four leaders say four different things on the same topic from the same party, you are bound to get suspicious. Creating such a mess seems designed to improve the BNP’s chances to come to power.
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Or is it that the AL doesn’t really care? What does it matter how it looks if it’s going to win the election anyway? Meanwhile, the point is, the BNP has already got its excuse. The environment that could be created to bring the BNP in is now diminished. Unless the BNP is absolutely certain that it’s winning, it will not join the polls it seems.
But even if it does, it now has the excuse beforehand that if it loses it was due to a conspiracy hatched by the AL and post-electoral instability is almost certain. It now has become a bloody mess and it’s difficult to understand why the AL has allowed it to slide to this.
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The lesson of history is that the unexpected always rules. The BNP didn’t expect anything untoward as it played games in 2007 with the caretaker government issue hoping to get in without much effort. It failed as the AL took to the street upsetting all plans. It forced military takeover. Now the AL is warning the BNP that military rule is bad for them also. It doesn’t mean the AL is planning anything but uncertain times are ahead.
So the AL needs to know a few things. Unexpected things can happen suddenly and the best example of that is Shahbagh Movement which nearly stole the thunder from the AL sails and they were mostly its supporters. And if it came from friend can one be ever sure what the enemy is planning?
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Our feeling is that there is no conspiracy because that takes a lot of organisational skills, planning and intelligence to create one. Does the AL still have it? They were simply trying to protect Joy but in their enthusiasm they have fumbled very badly. And in politics, such fumbles may carry large prices.
Afsan Chowdhury is a journalist, activist and writer.