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Rampal: The political environment (pt2)

  • Published at 12:02 am September 2nd, 2016
  • Last updated at 12:34 am September 2nd, 2016
Rampal: The political environment (pt2)

However, the AL is in such a state of power that it’s almost able to ignore all opposition and questions, and place its points publicly.

It also does have a lot to say on its behalf, leaving quite a bewildered public who have little clue about the technicalities of the argument.

The oil and gas committee has no political clout, though it does have moral power. But in politics, that really doesn’t matter, so it’s at a severe disadvantage. Even the obvious anti-Indian mood in the country is not much of a help.

Kansat and Phulbari were small time local problems; and local involvement and agitation played a major role.

But Rampal is a national one, and the only way it can be successful is if there is a national agitation. But that mood is very much amiss.

There is no comparison between the causes. In Kansat and Phulbari, the government was not a direct player, but here it is. So the question is not just of scale, but of priority as well.

Like the Padma Bridge project, the government has tied its prestige to the project and can’t back down even if it wanted to.

It’s at this juncture that BNP stepped in to lend a hand and ensured an early Eid for the AL and its leader making sure the problem goes to the space the AL wanted it to go.

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Kansat and Phulbari were small time local problems; and local involvement and agitation played a major role. But Rampal is a national one and the only way it can be successful is if there is a national agitation. But that mood is very much amiss

Now the advantage is fully with the AL, as BNP’s support has taken away the moral high ground of the anti-Rampal activist’s cause. At the moment, the equation is simple.

It runs this way: BNP=Jamaat=JMB=Jongibad, and that’s one lousy cause to get entangled with.

The best measure of that mood is the escalation of tolerance for crossfiring. Although many suspect that the encounters between the jongis and the police are set up and media has hinted that way occasionally, it has had no public impact, and Facebook posts are full of approval for police action in getting the jongis.

The attitude is “get them boys and they have no rights.”

It shows how little ground the militants have, how little the militants and their supporters understand the public mind, and how little HR activists do either. Bangladesh is saying, simply put: “Don’t spoil my rice or I’ll kill you.”

And Khaleda Zia has spent more time criticising police action and seeking membership of a joint anti-terrorism committee and much less in condemning the jongis. She has also refused to part ways with Jamaat, who in most public minds are a variation of the militant theme, and not a bunch of peaceful politicians.

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Hasina’s handling of the press conference shows that she is utterly confident, and really doesn’t care who says what. Although several of her claims have been contested by academics and activists, she knows the public doesn’t care -- even if they were right, and if she can keep a tight grip on the terrorism scene, she has little to worry about.

India is now directly lending a hand in managing the militants as India media has reported -- though unconfirmed -- and as the party that really matters, she is playing on the front foot.

Media members present at the conference have displayed that a loyal media reigns, and by preventing critical media even to be present at the meet, Hasina has dispensed with the problem of answering embarrassing questions, as none came or can come.

But as the consequences of Rampal will be known in the future, the political consequences will be too.

Given that BNP is totally out of breath, and Khaleda Zia may well be inside jail within the year and the party is virtually power and leaderless; Hasina has no opposition.

Her main worry is to ensure that she has no cause to worry soon.

And BNP has to make sure that given its present state, it has to have that spirit of sacrifice and not use good causes to launch a campaign and in the process, ruin a truly good cause.

Afsan Chowdhury is a journalist and researcher.