The Resounding Silent Revolution
That practically no prediction based on the so-called scientific hypotheses works for Bangladesh has been manifested once again in the reverberating victory of the 'pro-liberation forces' in the 2008 voting, officially the 9th Parliamentary Elections.
Silly of your scribe to utter so, for should we all not be in favour of the 24-year movement, the nine-month war that got us our motherland, freed it from the heinous clutches of Pakistani junta, politicians and business people?
Some notorious people, intellectual sinners say the nation is divided. That we happily are! For who wants to be on the side of killers, rapists, looters and conspirators, even if perpetrated 37 years ago? But the division is hopelessly lopsided, as amply proven on 29 December, for which a standing ovation is due to our valiant freedom fighters, led once again by the brave sector commanders, who unleashed an unarmed war on the war criminals. For the handful of connivers, who tried to wickedly postulate the supreme sacrifice of millions as a civil war, the nation has spoken: 1971 war criminals do exist, and they shall be punished on this soil sanctified. Their political defeat is only a breaking of the ground.
The reasons for this nosedive by the outgoing four-party alliance is not that much about being encumbered by incumbency, as it is about their apathy towards punishing the war criminals, their refusal to even discuss the brutal killings of MPs Ahsanullah Master and SAMS Kibria in the demised parliament let alone meting out justice, the horrendous grenade attack on 21 August on Sheikh Hasina at an Awami League meeting and the following shameful cover-up, the unfathomable politicisation of government, administration, education, health, sport... the list is as long as the queues at the polling centres. They all came out to quietly but firmly voice their protest, their anger. The Bangali always does.
Better nominations may have seen Khaleda Zia's coalition fare respectably, as some of their stained candidates were a slap on the face of the electorate, but the results have been a stunner both for the vanquished as well as for the successful. No one expected this, least of all our so-called experts who go on and on and on, on the umpteen channels, financed ironically during the last regime.
The predictions of (a) hadda-haddi fights between the two main parties (didn't know skeletons were good warriors), (b) the 55:45 or so distribution of seats (in the end it was roughly 87:11), (c) the possibility of 'no' votes by young voters would require another election (the new voters said 'yes' to change and good candidates), (d) the much-hyped Jamaat factor (2 seats out of 299, Nizami, Mujahid & Co. got dunked), etc. all went topsy-turvy. They are supposed to, as they were based on mere wishful thinking.
The heavy-voiced pundits may have most naively assumed from the large turn-out at meetings, as were the cautious journalists by carefully treating news of the two leaders equally, that it may go either way, but had they remembered HM Ershad's 4 Dec 1990 bishaal meeting, two days before his fall in 1990, they would have done some random sampling on the streets, and helped us mortals to get a preview of what was coming.
The meetings packed like sardines and the michils longer than a mile, perhaps more, should remind us of a Chinese proverb: you can buy a house but not a home, you can buy medicine but not health, you can buy books but not education. And now the lesson from Election 2008: you can buy attendance but not votes. The throng of people were but mirages.
Awami League-led Grand Alliance's huge majority by such unprecedented and unexpected margin is a stiff challenge to sustain. Bangladesh is not easy to govern is the escape slogan, however lame, of those who want to deny people their human, socio-cultural, economic, religious and secular rights. This is Grand Alliance's entrusted opportunity to empower people by new and amended legislation, for undertaking reforms within self, the party, the government and the parliament, and to shatter financial syndicates that kick the poor on the face.
Each of us, every voter, present and future, must reform to suit the changing needs, to face the demands of the times, to meet the test of the present and the future; the past is to lean back for glory, to seek inspiration and caution from what we have experienced.
The Grand Alliance, particularly the Awami League, the largest-ever parliamentary party in Bangladesh (yes, we have taken 1970's 167 seats out of 169 into cognizance) must be magnanimous in victory to get educated (and quickly) why BNP (193 seats in 2001) fell from such heights; lock, stock and barrel.
The onus, holy as it can be, is on the winning team of over 260 MPs, many of them first timers, to make the Jatiya Sangsad a workable institution where the 'Treasury Bench' shall speak to listen, and to let the opposition speak, not to get partisan bah-bahs but for the welfare of even those in the politically rival camp. That generosity should be employed by the opposition as a license for serving those who voted for them, and those who did not. Only then perhaps the next time they shall have more of their shade to strengthen their cause, but certainly minus the 1971 war criminals. The Grand Alliance on the other hand shall cast a very large shadow if they fail in theirs.
Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008