The party’s undisputed supremo has given an iron clad ultimatum to the all powerful government, while an unequivocal promise has been made to the party rank and file that victory is imminent. Political temper is reaching an unprecedented level. Violence has spread to even the remotest village, and the government repression is just as fierce. Ultimately, with the economy on the verge of disintegration, the urban and moneyed classes prevail upon the leader to call off the protests. The andolon has failed.
Mrs Khaleda Zia. BNP. Awami League. 2013-14.
MK Gandhi. Indian National Congress. The Raj. 1921-22.
Professor MA Taslim of Dhaka University is my favourite commentator on Bangladesh economy. I would readily recommend most of his Off the mark columns. However, even the great have an off day once a while, and Prof Taslim definitely missed the mark with this piece about Bangladesh’s development record.
It seems that every man, woman, child, their pets, even their Apple devices seem to have an opinion on what BNP should have done. Well, I am not going to add to that volume. I don’t presume to lecture politicians who have been practising their craft since before I was a twinkling in my parent’s eyes on what they should have done. I can, however, revisit what I wrote exactly halfway through the Awami League’s last term, and make an educated guess about how things could unfold from here on.
… there are good reasons to expect an AL win in 2013 election. What happens then?
… AL may well win the 2013 election, but its ability to hold on to power and govern successfully will depend on four key powerbrokers in Bangladesh: the bureaucracy, the army, foreign powers, and the business sector.
That’s what I wrote in July 2011. To be sure, I got a lot of things wrong. Follow through the links and you’ll find that I was fearing that a fragmented BNP would hand Awami League a narrow victory in a flawed election. The reality is that while BNP was more united than at any time in its history — not a single member of any standing left the party to join the 5 January election — and might have won any semi-decent election in a landslide, Mrs Wajed decided to hold an election that surpassed the 1996 or 1988 farces to rival the 1971 ‘by elections’ held under Lt Gen Niazi.
(Guest post by Tacit. A version posted at Rumi Ahmed’s blog.)
BNP has made a mistake! BNP has missed the election train! Khaleda Zia must repent now! I keep hearing versions of this argument from various quarters, including individuals in whom I have a great deal of faith and whose judgment I usually regard as sound.
What would have happened had BNP participated, and hypothetically, won the election? Would Sheikh Hasina have handed over power to Khaleda Zia and meekly left Ganabhaban?
I can tell you that Sheikh Hasina will not hand over power. It can only happen over our dead bodies. – Was Mr Wazed speaking only in the context of coups, or was it a general statement, encompassing all foreseeable future possibilities?
A magical realist masterpiece, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children has weird and improbable events and people juxtaposed against the history of the 20th century South Asia up to the late 1970s. One such improbable fact was that at the time of writing, and thus the story’s culmination, military rulers of the erstwhile two wings of Pakistan had the same first name.
This is not the only parallel between the political history of Bangladesh and post-1971 Pakistan.
Both successor states of United Pakistan started with larger-than-life charismatic leaders, whose rules ended in tragic denouement inconceivable in 1972. Both giants found governance to be much harder than populist rhetoric, both resorted to un-democracy, and both ended up meeting cruel ends at the hand of their trusted guards. Both countries succumbed to dictatorships in the 1980s, although the extent and mechanism varied. In both countries democratic opposition developed. In both countries, some form of democratic politics came into practice by the 1990s.
(Guest post by Tacit, a previous version posted at Rumi Ahmed’s).
In the days of yore, when men were men, and giants strode the earth, there used to be a website. It was called unheardvoice. It was, for a while, very good. Then it stopped being as good. Then it disappeared. So it was with great interest that I recently read a newspaper column by Asif Saleh, one of the founders of unhearvoice.
The Guardian has been listing top 10 movies by genre. Batman, Superman, Spider-man, Ironman all make at least one appearance, as do the Avengers and X-Men, and so does pleasingly surprisingly, Blade, in the superhero list, which is predictably topped by The Dark Knight.
Now, the Dark Knight Trilogy is right up there in terms of Hollywood epic grandeur. And I am partial to the political philosophy themes in that series. I should sometime write a piece on that.
But I think the best ‘superhero’ movie — by which, I of course mean a trilogy — is yet to be made.
For those coming in late, even though inflation has risen under the current government (Chart 1), real GDP per capita has grown by around 4½ per cent a year under successive governments over the past decade.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have had a bit of correspondence about inflation. This post answers some of the questions.
Will future historians think of 2013 as a pivotal year for Bangladesh? If they were to do so, it will not be because of anything that happened in the first half of this eventful year. The Shahbag Awakening, violence following the verdict in Delwar Hossain Sayedee’s war crimes case, peaceful and violent rallies by Hefazot-e-Islam, the Rana Plaza tragedy — none of these will rate alongside even 1975 or 1990, let alone 1947 or 1971.
All those events, and yet, as the year draws to a close, we are seeing replays of a drama we witnessed in Decembers past, where a government wants to hold an election come what may, citing the Holy Constitution, while the opposition wants to resist it at any cost, citing the fear of rigging. The political gridlock leads to violent images like this.