The current politicians in Bangladesh with some exceptions are no longer trusted and respected by the common people who are the ultimate source of power as the country truly belongs to them. They are the real patriots as they are hardworking, honest, sincere and dedicated. The economy draws enormous strength from them. They want good governance and peace. Both are far distant to their great disappointment. Politicians use them in the name of democracy for power and money. A combination of both minus transparency is corruption. No doubt, corruption is endemic.
What about the future of politics in Bangladesh? The newly released UNICEF survey results of fully literate children in Bangladesh reveal a bleak picture. Children (under 18 years of age) represent near 40% of total population in Bangladesh. Among the children surveyed from a random sample of at least 4,200, over 70% have no interest in politics. They are de-motivated by the prevailing rampant corruption and violence almost everywhere on a daily basis. Only 37% show interest in active politics. Either money or power motivates them. It tells a lot for the future course of politics in Bangladesh. Perhaps, they learned so by observing the bad political behaviour of their family members, relatives and neighbours. No surprise in it. In old days, our forefathers used to say that charity/good deed begins at home. Now, corruption begins at home. However, 90% of them are aware of rights. What about responsibilities? They must understand, at the same time, rights must accompany responsibilities.
Paradoxically, politicians in Bangladesh think that it is their right to mislead common people and to exploit them for amassing wealth. They care less for responsibilities to serve people as they promise to win in election. They mislead us by justifying the means of violence for restoration of democracy and for protection of life of the common people. Only emotional fools and greedy fall prey to it. There is no dearth of them. It should not need a genius to understand this nefarious political game.
Spells of violent blockades and hartals are taking away innocent lives, clogging economic life-lines and disrupting the daily life. Can these be any democratic right of any political party/parties? These are undemocratic means. How can undemocratic means save democracy? The current political climate is revengeful. This is nothing more than staying in power and going back to power, again. Is it not just to make money through corruption? Human lives have no values any more in the current political anarchy.
The so called jihadists and zealots on both political spectra are on a killing spree. Some places of the country seem to have become killing fields with concentration of jihadists and zealots. Who are they killing? The innocent and the poor are the victims. The so called politicians and their very own ones are not being affected. They are even nowhere to be seen on the streets. What kind of leadership is it? Both warring sides in this unholy game must to be blamed.
Common people are now terrified and traumatised. They are becoming growingly impatient. They may rise up against this tyranny as they did to fight for independence against the then West Pakistani colonialists. The external aggressors are gone, but the internal ones have grown. The latter can change colour and it is even harder to identify them. The common people may have to rise again to free themselves from the home-grown aggressors and exploiters. If not, they may have to embrace some other bitter pill(s) at least for temporary relief. None must discount or discard the ultimate power of the common people. In them, we must trust. Politicians may not have enough time left for self-correction. They are digging a path to disaster.
The revival of the so called jihadists started with their rehabilitation after the brutal assassination of the Father of the Nation. It has made politics very difficult in Bangladesh. What a colossal mistake it was! The subsequent progression of the jihadists has been made possible through incentivisation by both the AL and BNP in their rotating battles for power and to oust H.M. Ershad who deserves no discussion any further. They might have won their own battles, but both lost a big war. It is costing the entire nation very dearly both materially and psychologically. Today, we pay for misdeeds of the AL and BNP.
Institutions are failing. But are we ready to see the country failing like Pakistan or Afghanistan? If not, what to do? Rise up spontaneously to resist the identified political culprits on both sides or be ready to embrace national emergency? A pile of sands will collapse. Get out of the trap set by both the AL and BNP. As a note of caution, popular upsurge without proper directions from bold, dedicated and visionary leadership will add further to chaos and confusions. Is such leadership in the offing? Only Allah knows the best.
The country is burning. Niros are blushing. Voluble politicians are still out to confuse. A Great World Leader (Nelson Mandela) is no more in the world resting in eternal peace. Why can’t the so called leaders draw lessons of forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, freedom and justice for all from his life? Selfishness was always a choice for him. He refused to make this choice. So, he has been able to make a better world. He practiced what he promised and preached. In closing, can we even dare to hold any of our so called leaders up to any of these standards?
Matiur Rahman is the MBA Director and JP Morgan Chase Endowed Professor of finance at McNeese State University, USA.