Maswood Alam Khan from Maryland, USA
One thing about BNP leader Khaleda Zia people from all social strata in Bangladesh praise profusely is her strong personality, especially her stubbornness not to compromise, at least in her political statements, with anything that could jeopardize the country’s sovereignty.
People in general had feared that as usual BNP, the present opposition party, this time too would vitiate the public life by calling ‘hartal’ on any excuse as frequently as Awami League and BNP both did when they were in the opposition. But BNP leadership, after Awami League won the last election—rigged or fair—by a huge margin, did not really find much of excusable issues that could drive people to respond to a call of ‘hartal’. Plus, BNP leader Khaleda Zia had earned a bad name of an incapable mother, at least by the stories—real or concocted—people gossiped and the news media reported about, in shepherding her sons properly across the corridor of power when she was prime minister of the country.
Excuses available or not available, the only golden praise the opposition leader Khaleda Zia had earned during the last two years was her decision not to call ‘hartal’ while the only caustic criticism the prime minister Sheikh Hasina had earned in the same period was her own or ill-advised decision to take revenge upon Khaleda Zia and upon the party leaders of the opposition alliance.
The course of revenge spree against Khaleda Zia was first palpable when the word ZIA was erased from the banner of the International Airport in Dhaka. That was perhaps the first political suicide attempt of the party-in-power, sparking huge sympathy for Zia and her family, thereby gradually lifting BNP up from their wreckage of unpopularity. Of course, one more sympathy from the people BNP had earned was by the injury Tareque Rahman, the eldest son of Khaleda Zia and the BNP leader in the making, had been inflicted with while he was taken captive during the unconstitutional reign of the unprecedented two-year long caretaker government.
In a country where people don’t know what should be the leadership qualities in a parliamentarian, and for that matter in a prime minister, where people have no self-judgment, where people are easily carried away by the jugglery of the corrupt, sympathy always outshines talent, money all the time overshadows intellect, muscle constantly overpowers wisdom in the nasty game of politics.
In the neck-breaking competition of earning sympathy Khaleda Zia now seems to be in the lead with the latest report of ignominious eviction of a former prime minister from her residence in the Dhaka cantonment, an incident that has created uproar at home and abroad. Though the eviction was a matter of law the action in fact has turned out to be a matter of politics of revenge as people have not forgotten the way the present prime minister at the fag end of her last premiership tried to own Gonobhaban in a hurry.
But, the way Khaleda Zia was dragged from her home and the way the armed forces tried to hide their follies with stories full of lies and absurdities could prove to be strong nails in the party-in-power’s coffin, if Khaleda Zia can somehow make the ‘hartal’ fever grip the country. And the ‘hartal’ BNP has called for on the 30th November may prove to be the strongest nail in Khaleda Zia’s sympathy coffin, if people shun the destructive path, dug again, thinking that it was just for her personal fortune Khaleda Zia is now asking the country to tank its economy and the people to sacrifice their peace and security.
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