Monday, May 21, 2007

Dump date-expired politics: are they worth recycling?or fling them all in the bay of Bengal?

Vol. 5 Num 1056
Tue. May 22, 2007

Sense & Insensibility
Dump date-expired politics
Shahnoor Wahid

The commodity called 'Politics' that is still being sold in Bangladesh was made in the sixties and seventies. The date of manufacturing has long expired hence it has become unfit for human use. Therefore, on an urgent basis politicians will have to dump it in the Bay of Bengal and manufacture a new version that will look smart, be futuristic, pro-poor, pro-development and powerful enough to take on the challenges of the 21st Century.
No, dear politicians, you did not get it. You did not get it because your mindset has not changed yet. By futuristic we mean looking ahead with new concept and not selling the dreams of past leaders like Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman in new packets (No more cashing in on them, for God's sake!). By pro-poor we do not mean poverty alleviation of your poor sons and poor relations. By pro-development we do not mean you buying a taka two crore car or owning two hundred flats!
Therefore, it is apparent that besides dumping the date expired politics you will have to discard many more of your old habits, which are ridiculous, to say the least. You will have to discard the century old hartal (shut down), gherao (siege), jalao porao (burning) kind of programmes to achieve your political objectives.
You have no right to destroy the property of the state or that of the people or hold the nation as hostage. Oh, we forgot to mention another favourite programme of the political parties... "Showdown" ...whatever that may mean! That has to stop too.
Then comes the most visible part of your ludicrousness. Please refrain yourself from showing that 'wagging finger' at one another (thank God they do not show the finger that has an universal obscene connotation!). Look around the world and you will see that no politician threatens another by pointing a finger the way you people do in Bangladesh.
People are talking about more reforms. The list is in fact getting longer. In public meetings or in parliament you must not attack the opposition political parties with obscene words or gestures.
Parliament is not your private club. You have been sent there by the people, through a mightily expensive process called 'election,' to create laws and debate on the rising price of food items and not display your deftness in saying crude jokes concerning your opponents.
More of that refreshing wind of change is blowing across the swathe of the country. Do you feel it, dear politicians? If you do then it is good news for us. But to live up to our expectation you will have to do more. You will have to stop laying foundation stones of bridges, hospitals, community centres, schools and colleges in your name.
Remember, those are done with public money. We do not see American president or French president or British prime minister or Indian prime minister running all over the country to look at their own names on a foundation stone. This trait is called narcissism.
If something is done with your own money, or your father's money, then and only then, you can have a foundation stone etched with your name. By the way, why don't you people bring an honest old resident of the area; an old staff of the hospital; a farmer or a dedicated schoolteacher to cut the ribbon or lay the foundation?
Next, you will have to stop holding public meetings in the city or its outskirts. You do so only to get media coverage but in the process you totally bring the traffic to a halt for hours. Have you ever seen it done in any civilised country of the world?
If not then why do you do it? Why do we have to tell you repeatedly not to do so? Don't you carry your common sense around?
Dear politicians, how come you are agreeing to all the reform suggestions being put forward in various talk shows or seminars where many of you are taking part? What had happened to your good sense when you were in power? How come many of you are venting your anger now at the way the 'illustrious' sons and their cronies ripped through your beloved party and have taken it to where it is at the moment?
As the founding members of the party it was your moral obligation and solemn duty to lodge protests and compel the party chairperson to take action against the corrupt elements within the party. Your silence is tantamount to abetting in the act.
You see, today people hardly trust the entire lot of politicians in Bangladesh. The reasons are best known to you. Therefore, now the onus is on you and you will have to come up with credible words, plans and actions. Times have changed.
Shahnoor Wahid is a Senior Assistant Editor of The Daily Star.
The article is sole property of The Dailystar, but we are just taking comments from our respected readers for their say.
Please comment honestly and sensibly.
ChangeBangladesh Team.