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     Volume 6 Issue 19 | May 18, 2007 |

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Truth is Stranger than Fiction


There should be an end to dynastic politics. A number of mistakes committed by the last BNP-led four-party government created the present situation.

The extension of the judges' retirement age and the appointment of the president as the head of the caretaker government were the reasons which brought on the present situation.

There should be an immediate end to family-centric politics.

The extension of the judges' retirement age put the elections under question and this decision started a chain of events that led to the current situation.

Making President Iajuddin Ahmed the head of the caretaker government was another reason. A number of BNP Standing Committee members had opposed this move.

Why should the president be made the head of the caretaker government?

Why cannot Justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury become caretaker chief?

The current situation could have been avoided if these decisions were not made.

The BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan could not give proper guidance to the party and he did not stay in touch with BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.

Khaleda's younger brother Major (Retd.) Saeed Iskandar's appointment as BNP vice-president is not on.

Now you may have started to assume that suddenly I have grown an extra matha on my shoulder to be speaking so grotesquely on political matters. Thankfully, not so! In fact, no BNP leader, or any common man spoke in such language for fear of being fraught with intimidation. The civilised environment was not there.

Hard to believe, but all the above statements have been attributed in a Daily Star report of 13 May 2007 to former finance and planning minister, Saifur Rahman, based on his interview on a private television channel. He came on television almost every evening for those 1825 days, simultaneously with bomb blasts and killings and hartals and other injustices, but not once did we the viewers get the inkling that he had anything like this up the sleeve of his pinstriped attire.

He and several other high profilers definitely concur, even if partly as individuals and almost wholly as a group, with the then 14-party opposition alliance's standpoint. These are the viewpoints, well not verbatim but in spirit, which those who were opposed to BNP politically had been uttering for almost the entire period of their five-year term, and even after. No body had the time to listen. Haughtiness overruled common sense. Today's truth was then baton-charged on the streets. There was so much bloodshed. And uncertainty!

Dhaka City Mayor Sadeq Hossain Khoka some 48 hours earlier to his senior colleague had also identified extension of the judges' retirement age and BNP leaders' interference in Prof. Iajuddin Ahmed's (caretaker) government as the main reasons for the current situation. He also spoke in favour of changing the party leadership and decentralisation of power to make the party pro-people.

Then there is the former education minister, Osman Farruk, who came up with similar bombshells. 'BNP must carry out reforms within the party, punish the corrupt and remove failed politicians', said he in a recent interview. What ever could he mean by that? Axing his feet, perhaps? With a kural, that is.

Re-thought? U-turn? Self assessment? Remorse? Bravery? Whatever you may want to call it, such is the life of a politician: sat high on the pedestal one day, thrown out the next; embraced tonight, and stabbed the next morning.

And, of course, you all know that politics makes strange and often disgusting bed-fellows. I will never get over the nausea of valiant freedom fighters and despised razakars sharing the same cabinet. No, stupid! Not made of wood.

The English, should you watch their comedies you will know, are fond of making travesty of their politicians. To their credit, their politicians too can take a joke gracefully.

Here's one a friend sent via email. Come to think of it, it may be contextual to our politics in many ways.

A priest was being honoured at his retirement dinner after 25 years in the parish.

A leading local politician and member of the congregation was chosen to make the presentation and give a little speech at the dinner. He was delayed, so the priest decided to say his own few words while they waited.

"I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when stopped by the police, had almost murdered the officer. He had stolen money from his parents, embezzled from his place of business, had an affair with his boss's wife, and taken illegal drugs.

"I was appalled. But as the days went on, I knew that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people."

Just as the priest finished his talk, the politician arrived full of apologies at being late. He immediately began to make the presentation and give his talk.

"I'll never forget the first day our parish priest arrived," said the politician. "In fact, I had the honour of being the first one to go to him in confession ...!"

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