Published: Friday, May 17, 2013

Smarter, richer politics

POLITICS does not merely enrich our knowledge about the world we are part of. It also makes some people, the practitioners of politics for instance, a good deal richer than they were when they started out on their journey in the service of the people. You don’t have to go far and wide for evidence of what you see around you. With the June 15 mayoral elections in parts of Bangladesh approaching, go visit Sylhet, Rajshahi, Khulna and Barisal. You will be thrilled to note that four of the mayoral candidates in these places — Badaruddin Kamran in Sylhet, Khairuzzaman Liton in Rajshahi, Talukdar Abdul Khaleq in Khulna and Shaukat Hossain in Barisal are today happier than they were five years ago. Vicariously, we as citizens who toil from dawn to sundown, with not much of good things coming our way, are happy that our spirited leaders have presided over a rise in their economic fortunes. Are we, really?

Kamran had Tk. 2 crore 21 lakh as his personal wealth in 2008. Today it is a whopping Tk. 5 crore 16 lakh he is master of. Liton, son of the Mujibnagar icon AHM Quamruzzaman, started off with Tk. 2 lakh 44 thousand five years ago. Today, he must be positively happy with that money magically turning into Tk. 58 lakh 75 thousand. Khulna’s Talukdar Abdul Khaleq had a measly Tk. 3 lakh 62 thousand in 2008, which now is a stupendous Tk. 4 crore 67 lakh. In Barisal, Shaukat Hossain possessed a minuscule Tk. 6 lakh 12 thousand in 2008. He is today the proud owner of a hefty Tk. 3 crore 46 lakh.

Politics, as you can see, is wealth generating. Gone are the days of poverty stricken politicians who walked from village to village, in various modes of borrowed transport, and ended life in near penury. Today’s politicians are smarter, leaner, richer and healthier. They own gigantic vehicles, faux palaces for homes and keep their flunkies happy. The emaciated citizen, along the road or in the village, is impressed.

One silly question, though: why do politics and money come together in a climax?

The Writer Is Executive Editor, The Daily Star.