Mukti

A Non-Dynastic Prime Minister for Bangladesh

Posted in democracy, dynasties, politics by jrahman on January 24, 2015

(Guest post by Tacit.  First posted at Rumi Ahmed’s).

In the current conflict of attrition between BNP and Awami League, AL’s main advantage is that it has the resources of the state to inflict as much damage as it can on BNP. Furthermore, the creation of RAB means that AL is able to hand-pick the most AL-leaning of armed forces men and send them on killing sprees, while the rest are kept cooped up in the cantonments. Against this, all BNP can hope for is to slowly unravel the unwieldy coalition of military and civilian bureaucrats and businessmen who are now currently keeping AL in power. In this conflict, as in most conflicts in Bangladesh, the situation favors the state.

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How to lose the history wars

Posted in 1971, Bangladesh, dynasties, history, politics by jrahman on December 17, 2014

I said in the previous post:

They didn’t think much of him last winter. And since then, sporadic forays in our pathetic history wars have done nothing to improve his standing. They create media buzz, senior Awami League leaders end up looking quite stupid, and BNP rank-and-file feel fired up for a while. But what do they do to alleviate Mr Rahman’s extremely negative image?

Obviously, I don’t approve of the way Tarique Rahman is engaging in the ‘history wars’.  It occurs to me that I should elaborate and clarify.  Hence this post.  I don’t agree with Mr Rahman’s interpretation of history.  More importantly, from a partisan political perspective, I think they cause more harm than good for BNP.  And most frustratingly, a few solid points that BNP could make very usefully are utterly wasted.

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Bleak, Ne’er-do-well, Past

Posted in democracy, dynasties, politics by jrahman on December 12, 2014

There is no shortage of punditry along the line of BNP-is-in-trouble, most being pretty vacuous like this.  Shuvo Kibria had a better attempt a few weeks ago:

সরকার ….. নিজের আস্থাহীনতার সঙ্কট আছে।….. জনব্যালটে তার ভরসা নেই। …..সরকার চাইবে রাজনৈতিক শক্তি হিসেবে বিএনপিকে সমূলে উৎপাটিত করতে। বিএনপির চ্যালেঞ্জ হচ্ছে, রাজনৈতিক শক্তি হিসেবে নিজেকে পুনঃপ্রতিষ্ঠা করা।  (The government has its own crisis of confidence…. It doesn’t rely on public ballot…. The governent will want to uproot BNP as a political force.  BNP’s challenge is to re-establish itself as a political force).

I think the above is in on the whole correct.  And there may be a degree of validity in this as well:

বিএনপির প্রথম সারির নেতাকর্মীদের মাঠে নেমে প্রমাণ করতে হবে দলের স্বার্থে তারা যেকোনো ঝুঁকি নিতে প্রস্তুত।  (BNP’s front row leaders and workers will need to prove their willingness to take any risk for the party by getting into the field).

But I think even Kibria misses some key nuances.

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সাতকাহন

Posted in Bangladesh, development, dynasties, economics, history, labour, macro, Muslim world, people, politics by jrahman on October 5, 2012

Seven trashes collected by the senses.

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সাতকাহন

Seven trashes collected by the senses.

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Comments Off on সাতকাহন

How soon is now?

Posted in AL, BNP, democracy, dynasties, elections, music, politics, rock by jrahman on June 5, 2012

It’s an iconic 1980s song, played in the stereo systems of many a nerdy college kid over the past decades.  Along with Hanif Kureishi’s work, apprently it’s among the best commentary on the Thatcher era England.  It was also one of the themes of this classic Aaron Spelling drama.  And now, it seems to be a great commentary on Bangladeshi political scene. Reading the Economist’s recent editorial and news story on Bangladesh, I kept recalling Morrissey’s matter-of-fact statement:  when you say it’s gonna happen “now”, well, when exactly do you mean? see I’ve already waited too long, and all my hope is gone.

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Dynasty

Posted in dynasties, economics, institutions, political economy, politics by jrahman on April 14, 2012

No, not the 1980s TV show.  That’s just to increase my google hit.  This post is really about dynastic politics that pervades Bangladesh.  In fact, not just Bangladesh but many other similar (and not-too-similar) countries.  Ask any Bangladeshi pundit (or not-so-pundit-but-bhadralok-type) and you’ll hear the evils of dynastic politics.  Many a people in (not to mention supporting) the 1/11 regime were sincere in their desire to improve matters by eliminating the key dynasties from politics.

And yet, political dynasties, both at national and local level, prevails.  Voters regularly (though not always) vote dynastic scions.

Why?

Over the fold, I provide a rudimentary theory of dynastic politics.  I think this quick-and-dirty theorising has considerable explanatory power.  Further, the theory can actually make some normative claims about under what circumstances, dynastic politics can actually improve things.  And the theory has important implications for non-dynastic politics.

Needless to say, a blog isn’t the place to fully write down a well structured model.  Give me a research and consulting grant, and I’ll do that for you.  🙂

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