Bangladesh is in the labyrinth of an autocratic rule. Some call it Bangladesh Krishak Sramik…..
They are an echo of each other, the voices of the ruling parties of India and Bangladesh. BJP believes that India is a Hindu country, so BJP should rule it for ever as a Hindu-India. The Bangladesh Awami League (BAL), likewise, claims that the country was liberated from Pakistan in 1971 under the leadership of BAL so they own Bangladesh.
Last week, BJP and BAL leader met in Delhi, and announced that they would work together, without specifying what exactly would they work together on. This togetherness is the oneness of fascism in many ways. Once BJP came to power in 2014, it offered BAL all-out support in continuing to rule Bangladesh without elections. BAL had established a one-party system back in 1975 which is believed to be the reason behind the ruthless assassination of the Father of the Nation and then president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His daughter Sheikh Hasina apparently has the same dream for the last 15 years.
India, at least, has an electoral system, even though BJP is in power for the last two terms on the basis of Hinduvta populism, similar to the Nazi rule in Germany under Adolf Hitler. But BAL rule in Bangladesh is more of rural shrine-based village politics. The ownership of Bangladesh is publicly claimed by the village intellectuals and police officers of BAL cadre. Rule of law here means muscles, money and lip-service. The image of the fascist ruler as well as that of the servicemen is protected with a dark law that can be comparable only to the doctrines of the dark age.
Human rights abuse is a regular phenomenon, critics of the fascist regime are hunted down like witches. People of all ages are facing imprisonment for expressing views about the Hasina government.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had stated in front of Cuban leader Fidel Castro that his one-party system was a temporary thing and that he would go back to multi-party democracy. But Sheikh Hasina seemingly interpreted her father’s legacy as ownership of the country and a mandate to rule Bangladesh forever.
We learnt from the late President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, that he negotiated with Moin U Ahmed, leader of the army-backed government in 2008, that If BAL was brought to power, Moin would get a safe exit. In his autobiography “Coalition Years” Mr Mukherjee revealed the unpleasant truth that Delhi held all the power to install BAL in Bangladesh. Our sense of sovereignty is almost missing since then. Later on India’s direct involvement in the farcical elections of 2014 and 2018 substantiated Delhi’s complete authority in Bangladesh.
The way Bangladesh foreign minister Dr M.A. Momen claimed he requested India to keep Sheikh Hasina in power at any cost, proved Mr Mukherjee’s claims beyond doubt. Recently BAL leaders visited Delhi to get assurance of continued support from BJP, thus portraying Bangladesh as a puppet nation with masters living in Delhi. Even G.M. Qader of Jatya Party paid a visit to Delhi to consolidate his position as the opposition leader.
The BAL regime and it’s men are infuriated at the western insistence on free and fair elections. In the same breath they welcome Indian interference. Though Bangladesh earns remittance and export money from America and Europe, it is India that remains its guardian without offering any financial benefit.
Indian premier Narendra Modi doesn’t have authority in West Bengal, so he expects to maintain a stronghold in Bangladesh to oversee the North-Eastern states of India.
China and Russia have invested a lot in Bangladesh. Any sort of one-party system and fascism that works in their interest has their support. So Sheikh Hasina has enough backing from them.
But in the reality of an interconnected world, having ties with Asian super-powers and getting disconnected from western super-powers is a recipe for disaster, especially given BAL’s grim record of extrajudicial killings, human rights abuse, controlled media and opinion, rampant corruption, price hike and continued attacks on the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
The Hasina regime wants BNP out of its sight and a lovey-dovey parliament with a domesticated opposition like Jatya Party and Islamic parties minus Jamaat. BAL’s ties with Jamaat-e-Islami are also no longer hidden, BAL wants BNP destroyed at any cost.
The BNP regime from 2001-06 was also accused of human rights violation, attempts to destroy BAL and having close ties with radical Islamists. But BAL from 2009-till date has crossed all those misdeeds, and from being a liberal party it has swung the other way by adding radical Hindus to the mix and maintaining ties with both radical Hindus and Islamists. Reminds me of Charlie Chaplin as a ‘Busy Lover’ while also trying to be ‘The Great Dictator’.
However, signs of fear are becoming visible in the political rhetoric of BAL leaders. They are concerned about their future in case they fail to retain power. Air around them is filling up with desperation. It’s time the people of Bangladesh take back the reigns of power by asserting their right to free and fair vote.
BAL has already fooled a nation thrice, an attempt to bluff the people of Bangladesh for the fourth time may not fare as expected.
Edited by Zobaen Sondhi