As the parliamentary elections draw closer and politics get murkier, I notice interesting changes in many among the species that we belong to, the humans.
We humans are like rats, preparing to jump off a ship in stormy waters, and we make the choice of staying on or jumping off, depending on how the ship navigates its way out of a sensitive situation.
The two-term rule of the Awami League government is set to end in early January 2019, and followed by elections to the 330-member national parliament in December this year.
A confident and charismatic Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently announced the time of the polls, and has already launched her poll campaign from northeastern Sylhet, the holy land of Muslim saints.
With Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in shambles and its chief Khaleda Zia in jail along with the possibility of being unable to contest the upcoming elections, the prime minister has no reason not to feel confident of returning to office for the third time in a row.
I have been in tune with the murmurs going around in public places.
First, people are not happy with the news of an impending election, which to them means violence, despite government warnings of dealing with any attempt to disturb public order with an iron hand.
“I just hate these elections and I do not want to die in the violence, which none can stop. Look what happened last time. Innocent people like myself got killed. No, thank you. I want the peace Hasina gave us to continue.”
Second, will Sheikh Hasina continue, as the current scenario gives her full points, or will Khaleda Zia, now in jail on corruption charges, manage to return to power after 10 years?
A very big “but” is the reputation her son has -- a man who can put the nation in jeopardy.
“Brother, people get picked up and they vanish. It is scary. Despite that, I am happy with my business returns. What is the point of disrupting our lives with elections if by fluke it brings back Tarique Zia’s terror and corruption?”
Third, it is the worry and anger about ruling party affiliates like the Chhatra League. These elements must be taken to task, as they are tarnishing the image of the government, and more importantly, denting Sheikh Hasina’s many achievements.
On the other hand, the BNP appears to be a hopeless case against the ruling Awami League.
“Say Chhatra League anywhere, people get scared. I saw two bikers who were stopped by the police for violating traffic rules. One of them just said I am Chhatra League and the police officer apologized quickly letting them go!”
The turncoats are already active from what I see and hear. There has been a spree of people identifying themselves as former Chhatra League and great Awami League supporters. Now, with elections coming, these elements have gone slow in many places at home and abroad, as far as the government or the ruling party is concerned.
With BNP in shambles with its chief Khaleda Zia in jail along with the possibility of being unable to contest the upcoming elections, the prime minister has no reason not to feel confident of returning to office for the third time in a row
Known as “hybrids,” these elements need to be spotted and put in non-sensitive positions. Our missions abroad, especially the sensitive missions such as those in London, must be looked into deeply and immediate changes must be made so that turncoats cannot damage the government’s image further.
“Who is what, is difficult to understand these days in government or in politics. I see many (Chhatra) Shibir and Chhatra Dol in Awami League events. Same bureaucrats who enjoyed being blue-eyed boys of BNP regime changed to blued-eyed boys of the Awami League. What a play of colour change.”
I guess these selected few quotes are enough, at least for the moment, to understand some thoughts in the minds of the electorate.
One of the two most important things to concentrate on as we approach the polls, is the fear of inevitable violence being allegedly planned -- as per sources in London -- by Tarique Rahman, along with war criminals and Jamaat-e-Islami leaders in the British capital. The British government must take action to stop such meetings against another country by a convicted fugitive.
The plans include targeted killings, attacking security personnel, hotels, and important offices, the sources said.
The other is indeed the turncoats, and there is no dearth of them whether at home or abroad. These elements have already started to take safe distance from the government, waiting to see what happens in the next elections.
It is high time. The action needed is immediate or the consequences could be unacceptable. It will bring imminent danger to the progressive and pro-liberation forces in Bangladesh.
Nadeem Qadir is a UN Dag Hammarskjold Fellow in journalism.