It’s election day, but I am certain that people of very few countries have experienced such national polls.
Already, a large number of candidates have been elected uncontested, while many like us, who asked out of curiosity as to why there was no pre-election activity in the area with campaigners going around canvassing for votes, the answer was simple – this area falls within the category of unopposed ones where no one stood against the ruling party candidate.
So, no voting and yet the country is holding the national elections.
Take out the bat, the ball, and hit the open space in the alley for some smashing cricket!
Of course, those who refuse to let the past be forgotten forever, or feel that history needs to be taken into account in order to assess almost all political episodes, remember a similar situation back in 1996.
Yes, 17 years is a long time – long enough for some people to completely forget the then political settings.
Facing conditions similar to the present ones, AL was on the other side, agitating for elections to be held under a neutral administration.
In the elections that followed, after amendment to the constitution, AL came out as the winner. The lesson was this: When a nation sees that a party is being deliberately and unjustly deprived, it quickly takes the side of the weaker party.
The oppressed always have the upper hand!
Be that as it may, despite several articulate appeals made by noted editors, underlining the downside of holding forced elections without the major opposition party, wisdom has not prevailed.
But then, one can’t remember an instance when politicians listened to reason laid out by journalists or civil society members.
The opposition is cornered and how much credibility this new government will get is open to debate. Interestingly, this writer received a public awareness message, exhorting citizens to exercise their “democratic” voting rights.
One is compelled to look at the definition of democratic right once again. Doesn’t it mean taking into account the will of the people? If that is so, then the masses were not asked to view their opinion about holding elections under a caretaker government.
If surveys carried out by papers are anything to go by, then it’s clear that most people are for such a neutral system.
In all this rhetoric about politics by politicians regarding the need to uphold the sanctity of the constitution, the mention about the will of the people has been laced with ambiguity.
But then, we forget, the people are expected to nod and give their consent and go home believing in the illusion of the power of the masses.
The universal truth: Conditions never remain static forever, today’s king/queen may not be tomorrow’s pauper, but his/her throne may be shaken years from now.
Just an example: When Tony Blair came to power with the promise of a new hope in Britain, optimism was pervasive. At one point in the late nineties, the situation was such that it was felt Blair could not do anything wrong.
The UK economy was showing robust signs after decades of gloom, while The Labour Party was a darling of the masses. How that picture of roses and honey changed to disillusionment with the Iraq War is documented to the letter.
Maybe Blair won’t be recalled as the messiah but the mess-maker!
The once confident leader looks beleaguered when answering questions about the justification of the Iraq invasion.
Alas! Political perspicacity is lacking in Bangladesh. We always think of the moment, let the days to come be damned.
Everything said and done, one simply cannot end with a pessimistic note. Bangladesh has withstood countless upheavals in the past, and still the nation managed to scrape through.
As common people say: “Deshtar upor Allah’s doa asey” (there is divine blessing over the country)! We have witnessed the bloodstained seventies, the autocratic 80s, and then the rollercoaster ride that came with the 90s. Let’s just say, we are going through a process of evolution. Roller coaster rides are never forever, they stop after a time.
Whatever happens, and no matter how deflating the situation may seem, it would be unwise for us, the nation, to give up hope.
From the people, the exhortation has to be for a new breed of politician to rise, harbouring the desire to annul the rusty political ideology based on egotism.
At this very moment, such an expectation may appear quixotic, but we must hope. In that frame of mind, on this strangely quiet day, I will put “Hirak Rajar Deshe,” a Satyajit Ray classic about a fabled kingdom where people are brainwashed, in the DVD player.
Surely, lost in a world where miracles happen to resolve people’s concerns, one will be able to brush aside the phantoms of ’96.