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          Volume 11 |Issue| 15 | April 13, 2012 |


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Current Affairs

No Thanks

Shakhawat Liton

In the entire year of 2011, opposition Leader Khaleda Zia had joined the parliamentary proceedings only once, and that too was on March 15 when she, along with opposition deputies, returned to the House after remaining absent for 74 consecutive sittings. It was the second phase of their boycott of the current parliament. However, upon her return, Khaleda has launched an attack on the AL-led government, saying it has “completely failed to meet people's expectations.” In her own words: "The country is in a deep crisis. There is no rule of law, democracy, independence of the judiciary and the media. The government has no success..."

On that day, the opposition lawmakers walked out of the House protesting a minister's remarks on the late President Ziaur Rahman. The opposition deputies however returned to the House the next day and continued to participate in the proceedings till March 24. But Khaleda Zia, who left the House after delivering the one hour speech on March 15, did not join any other sittings of 2011.

Her return to the parliament this year, on March 18, was a little different. Immediately after her return, she did not take floor to blast the government-led by her arch rival Sheikh Hasina. Rather she patiently waited for her turn to participate in the ongoing discussion on the thanks giving motion on the president's address.

And on March 20, BNP chief Khaleda took part in the discussion and spoke one hour and 53 minutes. In her marathon speech, she might not have left any stone unturned to castigate the AL and the present government. She blasted the government for the price hike of essentials, deterioration in law and order, killings of journalist couple Sagar and Runi, the murder of a Saudi Embassy official, and alleged corruption in the power sector. She also slammed the government for its failure to stop border killings, sign a treaty on the Teesta water sharing with India and settle the Tipaimukh dam issue.

Mirza Fakrul Islam Alamgir has turned Khaleda’s congratulatory speech into a farce. Photo: Amirul Rajiv

In the blistering attack, the opposition leader found at least one success of the government and offered the nation a very rare moment in the confrontational culture of the country's politics--Bangladesh's recent win in the maritime boundary dispute case with Myanmar. Khaleda, also former prime minister, lauded the government's role in securing a recent victory over Myanmar in a maritime boundary dispute case at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Of course in a rare occasion, she congratulated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and officials at the foreign ministry on the success.

It did not however take long to spoil the show. Since Khaleda's speech, some senior leaders of the BNP have started to question Bangladesh's win. BNP leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain is quick to raise an eyebrow. He has wondered which country had actually won the maritime dispute case. "Both the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar had been claiming that the UN court's verdict went in their favour. So, which one is correct?” the BNP leader has asked.

Hawkish Mosharraf's comments have found a resonance in the party's acting Secretary General's heart. On April Fool's Day when some people crack jokes on others, Fakhrul has turned up with a statement saying, "The government is fooling people through deception over the maritime boundary victory against Myanmar."

Fakhrul has not been joking. Merely six days later he has turned up with a bombshell by saying the BNP is withdrawing the felicitation Khaleda Zia has extended to the government.

Khaleda Zia's felicitation to her arch rival Hasina did not last even for a month. Khaleda has set an example in our confrontational politics by greeting Hasina and others for the maritime boundary success. And her party's acting secretary general Fakhrul on April 7 has turned it into a farce.

However Mirza Fakhrul has explained the reasons behind the withdrawal. Speaking as the chief guest at a roundtable styled “Achievement and non-achievement through the verdict over maritime boundary" organised by Bangla daily Amar Desh, he has said that the verdict had mathematical deceits, which they were not aware of before.

"We were confused by the massive [government] publicity of 'conquering the Bay of Bengal' and we extended our thanks without knowing details about the verdict. But after identifying the loopholes, we stand corrected," he has said.

Fakhrul's claim is partially true. The AL-led government will do many more things in the coming days to use the maritime verdict in its favour to gain public support even in the next parliamentary elections of 2014. And there is nothing wrong with it. If a government performs well and leads the nation to major successes, the ruling party will use them to drum up people's support. At the same time, if a government fails to deliver on people's expectation, the ruling party will have to pay heavily for the failure. And there are many failures of the present government and for which the ruling party may have to pay heavily in the next parliamentary polls.

Fakhrul's statements in defence of withdrawal of felicitation also deserve some analysis. He has said, "…we extended our thanks without knowing details about the verdict…" This "innocent" remark exposes the musk of our bankrupt politicians who have gained the skill over the years to use their tongues to fool people.

The drama that has been unfolded before us centering the felicitation has also exposed the animosities between Hasina and Khaleda and two rival camps led by AL and BNP. The animosities have gradually been reaching such a stage that both the leaders now do not hesitate to prescribe the exile of their rival.

After the news of the alleged ISI funding of the BNP in 1991 parliamentary polls, Prime Minister and AL chief Sheikh Hasina on several occasions advised Khaleda to leave the country. “Go to Pakistan, if you have so much sympathy for it. Don't pollute the soil of Bangladesh.”

Now, it is the time for Khaleda to suggest her rival to leave Bangladesh. The BNP chief on April 8 at a meeting of the party's national executive committee has strongly criticised the prime minister, saying Hasina may leave the country as “she has looted huge sums and all her relatives are staying abroad.” Let's take a break and think a while what our two top political leaders are saying about each other! How deep can they sink?

The writer is Senior Reporter, The Daily Star.



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