Less than a month is too early to dissect a government for anatomy, rather it makes sense to forward a chart of preventive and predictive maintenance to the driver of the vehicle on which the whole country is now riding on a precarious uphill journey with sky high confidence. The destination is a better Bangladesh.
Public passion and patience for any democratic government diminishes, the rate is faster in Bangladesh than anywhere. Collective psyche of Muslim Bangalee is ambivalent and capricious, due to obvious tendency of alternating identity between inherently conflicting Muslim and Bangalee tradition. That contributes Bangalee to be a perpetual swing nation. It also makes it so improbable for any political party to come back to power for the second term through election.
Then next five years may be considered as the effective lifespan of this popular verdict for change. What is this change? This change is nothing but a commitment of reconnecting the country with her genesis. Liberation struggle is essentially the focal point to define the paths and goals of this change. Digital Bangladesh implies a desire to embrace modern technology to achieve goals. Once political and economic path is determined in the light of 71, other destinations will automatically fall in line. They are law and order, education, health care, corruption-nepotism free administration, rein in trade unions and industrialists, protecting rights of working class, so on and so forth. Each task is daunting but doable through due diligence and application of modern techniques. Ground breaking step was to form a government that should mirror the election manifesto from head to toe. Sheikh Hasina scored high on public approval rating for her newly formed team for change. The combination of new blood and fresh minds, honest and unsung politicians, inclusiveness and transparency has generated synergy for change.
Early morning sunshine of this government was partly hazed by few incidents like comments of honorable PM, the excesses of unleashed BCL cadres in the campuses and alleged interventions in Upazila election. The issues are microscopic in proportion to the murky past, but soon may turn into lethal ammo in the hand of shenanigans. Analysis and corrective actions are required to stop further recurrence. Sheikh Hasina’s first message to her political colleagues and cadres was an icy warning, hands off corruption, very well matched with public mood of the moment. Next day in a meeting with the bureaucrats, ‘do-over’ of the same threat to politicians and asking bureaucrats to work above political influences was as good as issuing them a new permit to kill democracy. In fact, for both civil and military bureaucrats, the first unequivocal message of this government should be; learn to discharge your duties, for which you have solemnly pledged, in democracy, under the guidance of political leadership. They should be rightfully admonished for their bloody past as an accomplice to assassinate democracy and warned about the risk of treading on the past ambitions again. Total population is standing behind this government to safeguard and perpetuate our democracy. Like past strategy, clinging to power in fear and ambiguity and at the cost of moral compromise will clearly undermine public verdict.
Election result reinforced the legitimacy of trial of war criminals. Post-election statement of Sheikh Hasina, ‘election result has already punished the war criminals’, has sent an early chill of skepticism to public enthusiasm for change. The issue is complex with strings attached to Saudi-American interest. Any harm to Jamaat-e-Islam will receive fierce resistance from Saudi Monarchy and perhaps from USA as well. Saudi Gazette, the English daily, has already started propaganda against this elected government by publishing a lengthy article inventing coercion against Urdu speaking voters who were enfranchised for the first time in this election. Since Pakistan era till Banglabhai saga, Jamaat in Bangladesh has been the most faithful handyman of America utilized to politically and physically butcher progressive politicians and intelligentsia. America will never let her time-tested followers and ‘death squads’ to stand on the dock for the crime she herself sponsored. Here Dipu Moni may play a vital role to pull her team together to broker a very intricate diplomacy with surgical precision, by cultivating the foreign policy of Obama government, to thwart Saudi diplomatic and economic blackmail.
My earlier expectation has now matured into a demand to Sheikh Hasina to induct Menon and Inu into the cabinet to make it a further inclusive, fail safe, well contoured government. More so, it will fortify the support of Southern Bangla for this government. This is necessary for empowering patriotic politics and secular democracy and to replace and counter fundamentalists’ onslaught. The issue would certainly face external resistance again from Saudi-America block and internal opposition from the old stakeholder of power. Saudi money and spiritual influence will never let democracy flourish in Bangladesh which in turn may threat monarchy and American hegemony. This government has the clout to overrun these obstacles – I believe.
Extending tenure of General Moeen U. will be an ill-advised decision. This publicity-savvy General has already savored the taste of power and has been turned away from the threshold of Gana Bhabon by the power of public. Keeping him in uniform is a fatal safety issue for democracy. The oratory skill and articulation that I could figure from the glimpse of the Information Minister on TV screen honestly did not meet my expectation about the spokesperson of the digital cabinet. The exposure was too short to comment. Yet why not Asaduzzaman Noor got this slot. Public hipped enormous confidence on street warriors and veterans like Motia, Sahara, Dipu Moni, Nurul Islam Nahid, Faruk Khan, Dilip Barua and Qader and visible jittery on Engr. Musharraf. Likewise, public applause was resounding for sending STAR into political wilderness.
Within first few days or week, the government have to initiate or execute few salient points of the election promises to let public align their aspiration with the dynamics of the government. Obama can be the best reference here. First night he and his wife joined a neighborhood ball in Washington. 90% of Washington inner city residents are stricken with poverty, drugs and HIV. The humane appeal of this ball electrified the whole nation. Some called it rhythm of revolution. With his executive power, on the 2nd day, Obama ordered to close Gitmo, foreign detention centers and torture to prisoners. On the 4th day, he overturned injunction of Bush on overseas abortion funding. These prompt and bold actions have profound impact in US and global history. It clearly defined the new path of this administration, a sharp turn from the Bush policy. These actions have also reassured his people with far reaching clear and enduring vision about his adherence to his election commitments.
The revolution through ballot in 1970 resulted in a sovereign country for Bangalee, Bangladesh. But other objectives, like to establish a country free from economic exploitation, a nation above segregation on the line of religion, race or ethnicity, did not materialize. Part national and international conspiracy, part inept political leadership was responsible for the catastrophic failure of that revolution. It took protracted political struggle of more than three decades and sacrifices of lives of Bangabandhu, Nazrul, Tazuddin, Mansur, Qamruzzaman, Taher, Basunia, Nur Hossain and many more to pave the way for another revolution through ballot. The enormity of public trust in this government is unprecedented in the political history of Bangladesh. The silo of this government is full to the brim with public support. Internal and external enemies are also active to sabotage this new journey of democracy. The government must be prudent and proactive in prioritizing and discharging tasks, must be fearless and unshaken in identifying and defeating enemies. They must be transparent and accountable in every action. Let the government always cling the hands of public in this historic uphill journey for change.
Manirul Islam writes from Canada, He is one of our guest writers.