Mukti

Politicsback

Posted in democracy, elections, politics by jrahman on November 25, 2018

These old men are bringing politics back, yeah / Them other guys don’t know how to act, yeah…. — okay, that’s enough frivolities, this is a serious political post.  Jatiya Oikya Front is taking on the regime of Hasina Wajed through the ballot box, thereby bringing politics back, politics that was sent packing by the prime minister of East Peccavistan five years ago.  What exactly is going on?  How did we get here?  That’s hard enough to answer, never mind any prediction of what will happen next!

What do I mean politics was sent packing?  Four years ago, I argued that our institutional settings — unitary republic with a unicameral legislature, constitutional bar against floor crossing, and the first past the post voting system — plus the historical baggage carried by the two party chiefs led to the autocracy of Mrs Wajed.  Her rival, Mrs Zia, was soundly beaten.  And with that, politics as we knew it ended.

The institutions we created/inherited, with the historical factors, led to the politics of the past decades. After 1991, BNP realised that it had power over so many things, while AL realised that it had power over absolutely nothing.  AL immediately set on winning power. It went with what it knew well —andolon. BNP panicked and rigged a by-election in Magura, giving AL a casus beli. After 1996, BNP figured that andolon would not do, so they introduced the alliance concept. After 2001, AL did andolon, but also formed a bigger alliance and introduced behind-the-scene moves with the establishment. Meanwhile, each successive government took centralisation to a new level.

And all this, because losing is not an option in a winner take all world.

At least in that world, the existence of two parties created some form of balance of force.  That balance is now gone.  BNP is not able to dislodge the government.  Calling for a free and fair election is a pointless exercise because the government isn’t interested in offering one, and the establishment isn’t convinced switching the masters will do anyone any good.  As a result, politics as we have come to know is finished.

A few hours after I posted that, another round of andolon ensued.  I don’t know whether this was premeditated or spontaneous, but the opposition BNP’s apparent number two called for the street protest to continue until the government fell.  I don’t know whether the violence that ensued were acts of agent provocateurs, but force did not bring politics back.

So, how did politics come back now?

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A brief (alternative) history of Pakistan 4

Posted in fantasy, what ifs by jrahman on October 28, 2017

Previously, Pakistan is created as a ‘moth nibbled basket case’, with its first prime minister MA Jinnah dying after merely 13 months in office.  Subsequently, the Muslim League splinters into two parties, each vying to win the country’s first general election in December 1950.  HS Suhrawardy is re-elected in the centre, and consolidates power over the provinces.  

As the years have gone by, historians and pundits of all stripes look back to the mid-1950s with increasing fondness.  However, Pakistan under Prime Minister Suhrawardy was every bit chaotic, with all aspects of life being just as contingent on chance, as it is today.

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A brief (alternate) history of India — the rangeela years

Posted in fantasy, what ifs by jrahman on October 19, 2013

Previously: India wins freedom; President Jinnah; President Das; Nehru elected; Nehru’s agenda; Nehru’s first term; Nehru re-elected; Nehru’s second term.

It’s not really clear why President Nehru’s third term is considered the rangeela years.  Perhaps it’s a reference to the introduction of technicolour spectacles — AshokaJodha Akbar and such like — of the era, or more generally, the introduction of colours to Desi films.

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সাতকাহন

Seven trashes collected by the senses.

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Bengal undivided

Posted in Bengal, fantasy, history, what ifs by jrahman on August 14, 2012

I’ve been intermittently posting two series of alternate histories, one with a Pakistan where Bengal, not Punjab, experienced communal cleansing (latest post) and the other is an India that was never partitioned (latest post).  As it happens, even in the unpartitioned India, I imagine Bengal partitioned on communal line.

Does that mean I believe Bengal was always destined to be divided?

No.  I don’t believe there is anything inevitable about history.  There are specific reasons why key players make particular choices, which together with external shocks (sometimes truly random), shape the course of history.  It’s not that hard to imagine a history where Bengal remained undivided, whether as part of India or Pakistan, or as an independent, sovereign state.

So, what if Bengal had not been partitioned?

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A brief (alternative) history of Pakistan 3

Posted in fantasy by jrahman on March 1, 2012

Previously, Pakistan is created as a ‘moth nibbled basket case’, with its first prime minister MA Jinnah dying after merely 13 months in office.  Subsequently, the Muslim League splinters into two parties, each vying to win the country’s first general election in December 1950.

Pakistan held its first general elections in December 1950.  Prime Minister HS Suhrawardy’s National League was seeking re-election at the centre, while the Awami League — led by Liaquat Ali Khan in Maghrebistan and Khawaja Nazimuddin in Purbadesh — was trying to stay in office at the provinces.  There were very little ideological differences between the two main parties.  Rather, it was a contest of personalities, and patronage and campaign tactics largely determined the result.  Accordingly, Pakistan’s democracy got off to a decidedly mixed start.

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