Winners and losers in NCC
Election to the Narayanganj City Council is going to be held on Sunday. Anyone remotely interested in Bangladeshi politics has their eyes glued to the race, so I am not going to provide any links. Nor do I say anything particularly novel below. Still, more for the record than anything else.
1. AL’s support for Shamim Osman is completely in line with its desire to stay in power beyond 2013 by any means necessary. Any commentator expressing surprise about AL choosing Osman over Selina Hayat Ivy either completely misreads the country’s politics, or is deluded about AL.
2. More interesting is both candidates’ desire for winning the mayor’s race. Whoever becomes the mayor will be ineligible to run for parliament. Apparently, Ivy was offered the nomination in the next parliamentary election. Surely being an MP yields more perks, or opportunities to serve, than being a mayor. Then why did they both dug their heels? Ivy has been pretty clear about this — she didn’t seek parliamentary nomination in the past, and has expressed no desire to enter national politics. But what about Osman? Why is he giving up the chance to become an MP? Is it because he believes that AL has little chance to hold on to power beyond 2013?
3. A win for either Osman or Taimur Alam Khondoker (the BNP candidate) might be seen as a loss for their respective parties in the grander scheme of things. Under the current circumstances, a win for Osman will be portrayed as a repeat of the Bhola-3 election. But AL leadership is indifferent to such criticisms — nothing interesting about that. What about BNP? It eked out a win in Chittagong last year, and demonstrated its resurgence in municipality and by-elections in January. Given the split in AL, one might think BNP could take a serious shot. But then again, if it wins, won’t that undermine its street programmes for a caretaker government? If it can win local elections under AL, how can it claim that the national election will be rigged? Does that explain why its candidate resembles a zombie more than anything else?
4. What if Ivy wins? She is clearly the candidate of the ‘civil society’. How will a Mayor Ivy play with the ‘third force’ crowd? Or will a victorious Ivy stay loyal to Sheikh Hasina the way victorious Ali Ahmed Chunka (Ivy’s father) remained loyal to Sheikh Mujib, even after 15 August 1975?