Photo: Thousands of Awami League supporters attended the pre-election AL meeting at Paltan ground today in order to meet their leader Sheikh Hasina who delivered her speech from behind a bulletproof glass screen. AL President Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to address public meetings at Comilla and Feni on Saturday en route to Chittagong. Dhaka, Bangladesh. December 26 2008, by: Shafiqul Islam Kajol, Drik*NEWS*.
Awami League national council, the foundation and the democratic tradition of this over-half-century old political institution of Bangalees, will be convened within days. The lightning speed of council preparation has generated enormous euphoria and optimism in one hand; on the other hand a thin cloud of skepticism is also visibly adrift in the sky.
AL was born in an undemocratic country with democracy as it’s lifeline. Therefore, relentless struggle for democracy is the euphemism of the fight for existence of AL. When the leaders of AL become the brutal targets of assassins, democracy also disappears from this landscape. From the cradle till today, nine years in power and half century on the street – the history of AL can be phrased as ‘defiance for survival’. Imprisonment, torture, assassination, conspiracy, money and lure to power could never alienate AL from people and democracy. Street has always been the address and public as identity of AL. Ceaseless struggle and sacrifice – these are the source of it’s strength.
Without going far back in time let us bring 9/11 into context, still afresh in our memory, the most well orchestrated challenge that our democracy has ever weathered so far. Reasonably AL became the focal point of all wrath of the 9/11 sponsors. The stakeholders’ consortium of 9/11 skillfully manipulated the inherent weakness of our anemic democracy and democratic institutions to grab the state power. Rampant corruption commissioned by then democratic government and the hostility among democratic partners were real, that agonizing public could bear no more. When corrupt business, social and political elites were put on the dock, public were cheering in breathless excitement. Then the ruling power started herding democratic political leaders on the same dock accusing them equally corrupt and criminal. Public cheer suddenly came to a jaw-dropping silence. Overwhelming public support for reform and accountability of politicians and political parties soon turn into fierce opposition to machination of the power-center to kill democracy. Steadfast public with crystal clear political perception averted a national disaster with minimum damage and helped the nation move forward rapidly on the path of democracy.
The genie of 9/11 has been bottled up by the public, but not the public aspirations that were loud and clear during those days when our politics was on trial. First and foremost is to establish democracy in every layer of party structure. Silencing Abdul Jalil, indiscriminately bracketing non-conformists with 9/11 reformists, treating party leaders, unjust victims of 9/11 as ‘untouchables’ – all these manifestations contradict democracy within and if symptom persists, it is suicidal for democracy. Party office bearers should not hold government portfolio. Party book keeping must be transparent and visible as well to the public. Sprinting to the convention, in no way, should be the excuse of cutting corners and accommodating lapses.
Initial spectacle in forming digital cabinet soon turned into lackluster stunt. Fusion of old and new blood could not give essential modern facelift of the cabinet. Government flagship Home Ministry under the leadership of an old guard with a western-styled immature apprentice already made a fatal nosedive. Two impressive political street fighters are grappling with the Foreign Ministry with their no diplomatic skill and vocabulary. Media and internet are charging public minds with expectations of spectacles at the convention, never seen before. Single handed cherry picking may risk serious errors and irreversible damages. The galaxy of advisers should be kept in the Milky Way far from unnecessary meddling into party affairs.
Democracy mirrors many minds. Many paths converge to democracy. This idyllic scenario does not exist in our politics. The angle of deflection between two major forces is one hundred and eighty degree which is the only life threatening disease of our democracy. How this virus that tries to eat up marrow of our history and breaths poison on our democracy – public distinctly know that. If democracy thrives, these political villains will be swallowed up by time. Please do not waste your party time in vilifying these termites of democracy.
In the context of our political history, AL convention always turns out to be a milestone. It truly defines path of our democracy. A collective leadership, harvested from the grass root, embedded with modern vision, extraordinary talent and pedestrian political experience will add further inertia to this government to move forward with digital pace. With the nation, let us look forward to this festival of democracy and hope.
Manirul Islam is a freelancer , writes from Toronto, Canada.