In early 1990 two leading ladies of Bangladesh politics Begum Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina Wajed were together on the streets struggling to overthrow the autocratic regime of General Ershad. Since early 90s excepting the two years of Care Taker/interim government, two ladies led what people call democratic government over the last two decades. It is not unreasonable to expect that democracy should have taken a firm step in our political history over the periods of four democratic governments. But unfortunately that did not happen. Democratic institutions are still at infancy. Rival parties and fronts do not have minimum trust or respect for each other. Lack of democratic traditions creates challenges to parliamentary democracy. Instead of making parliament the place for all debates and decision making, the ruling party and opposition create bitterness outside it making the process of democratization extremely difficult. Present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is the daughter of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. She is one of the two survivors of the family from the mid-night massacre of 15th August 1975. She leads the Pro-Liberation Grand Alliance. The components of her alliance mostly belong to secular liberal political parties which had traditions of struggling for independence of Bangladesh and as such have commitment to establish the values of the liberation war. On the other hand, leader of the opposition Khaleda Zia is the widow of Slain Army Ruler General Ziaur Rahman who himself was a liberation war front commander. The major component of the alliance she leads is BNP comprised of people from different faith and ideologies. Her alliance also has extremist and religious fundamentalists which opposed liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. Both the ladies are kingpins in Bangladesh politics but both are in politics by default.
Any political analysts will agree that Bangladesh politics in recent years has been unfortunately influenced by rivalry between these two ladies. They individually have almost exclusive control over their party and alliance. It is only during the two year terms of Army backed Care Taker Government that there were attempts to eliminate the ladies in the name of “Minus Two” formula which ultimately failed due to massive popularity of the these leaders. But there is a genuine feeling that both failed to lead the country with patriotism, prudence and proper vision .As such the country is in serious crisis. People are suffering from serious crisis of all utility services –Gas, power and electricity. Law and order situation is deteriorating. Utility service crisis is impacting upon economy. Trade, commerce and business are coming to a stand still. Investment from both foreign and local sources has become almost zero. Present government no doubt inherited a highly undisciplined energy sector after 5 years of corruption-ridden Four-party-alliance-misrule and two years of Care-Taker-Government inactions. But during the 15 months of the 60-month tenure, present government also failed to improve the situation or give any confidence to the suffering people to improve the situation in the near future.
BNP-led-4-party-alliance stayed away from parliament for the most part of 2009 and early 2010. But when they returned, parliament became the place for slandering. None of citizens’ problems were discussed. Parliamentary democracy demands responsible behaviour from both treasury bench and the opposition. In all national issues, opinion of leader of the house and leader of the opposition merit great value. But in our political culture, the two feuding ladies never have the meeting of minds on any matter of national interest.
Leader of the oppositions has started addressing grand rallies in divisional head quarters. In the series of lectures, she addressed a grand rally at Port City Khulna on 18th April. She earlier addressed similar rally in Chittagong. On 5th May she will address a rally in Rajshahi.
Khulna and Barisal are the neglected regions of Bangladesh. These regions are deprived from Gas supply, stable power supply and other civic amenities of life compared to Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet region. A very potential Mongla port is grossly under utilized. The airport in Khulna is not built for several years. Many industries in Khulna region were shut down over the last 6-7 years. In absence of employment opportunities, educated youth have indulged in unsocial activities. Terrorism and anarchy are dominant in the region. Some leading journalists and political leaders were killed in recent years.
When Khaleda Zia was there in Khulna on 18th April people should have asked her
• Why in her time she did not take initiative to modernise Mongla port?
• Why her government did not arrange to supply gas to Khulna?
• Why her government stopped the construction of Khulna Airport?
• Why her Government shut down several industries causing job loss of thousands of workers?
• Why she could not conduct proper enquiry into killings of noted journalists Manik Saha and Humayun Kabir Balu?
Leader of the opposition vilified PM Hasina as corrupt leader and called all minsters corrupt. If she has genuine evidence of corruption why she is not placing this to the parliament? She shed crocodile tears for Amar Desh, New Age Editor and One Journalist Sawkat Mahmood. These persons are abetting war criminals, noted corrupt persons. Affected people have sued against them. But during her time terrorists and war criminals killed journalists in Khulna. Her government took no action to nab them.
Leader of the opposition termed BDR Carnage in 2009 as premeditated killings. This is a serious allegation. She must be asked to produce evidence. Her role at that time must be investigated.
Leader of the opposition is talking about Energy Famine. Yes there is Energy Famine. Her Government is 90% responsible for it. She must be ashamed to talk about it. The damage her government did to energy sector can not be recovered in less than 10 years. Present government is struggling to recover it. If she is smart enough she will keep silent on this issue.
She blames Army for manipulating the election to bring the Mahajote government to power. Still she demands deployment of army to Bhola bi-election. She almost abandoned Major Hafiz for his role post 1/11. Now she is shedding tears for him. Her politics is full of contradiction and confusion. People know what she is aiming at. She has to create cloud and smoke now to create barriers for war criminals trails. If her long term allies, the war criminals, get punished BNP politics will get a severe blow. So she is busy creating new front to resist trails of War criminals.
Other than vengeance and bitter criticism, she has had nothing constructive to say. She should have apologized to the people of Khulna and Southern region for her previous disinterest in the progression of such regions. She should have said sorry for shutting down several industries and accusing job loss of many families. She must have apologized to the families of Manik and Balu for failing to try their killers. She should have apologized to the people for her failure to complete pipeline supply of gas, make mongla port active and to finish works of Khulna Airport.
People of Bangladesh are much smarter than 1990s and 2001. If Khaleda Zia has to earn confidence of people again she has to take clear stance in favour of War Criminals trails. She has to clean her party from corrupt elements and terrorists. She and her son must face all corruption charges in the court of law and come clean.
Leader of the opposition must tell the nation how she would have handled Energy situation if she were in power. She should also say why in her time she failed to address the situation properly. She must not do politics with this. She must tell people how PM Hasina deals will India and China will harm the nation.