Padma Bridge and some thoughts on our politics

M Mizanur Rahman
After World Bank (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have, according to media reports, “withheld” funding for the Padma bridge project.

When Ichiguchi Tomohide, director of Jica Bangladesh Desk, was uttering the words like, “Of course, our stance against corruption is quite stringent,” our finance minister was certifying the issue as a clean one. Have we or our government ever thought about what the aftermath of the postponement of providing funds by these agencies can be. Will we then go for self-financing of projects like that of the Padma Bridge? Who will suffer for this and for whom they will suffer?

When a high government representative fails to retain the trust of majority, it is wise for a government to withdraw the man. And when he or she fails to retain the faith of international developmental organisations, other governments and their agencies and also of the common people, keeping him or her in duty is almost suicidal for a government. For many strategic areas, the communications ministry and the minister-in-charge have become the issues of embarrassment and shame for the government now. The more the prime minister tries to shade the scandals, the more it becomes visible. When all have raised question on the honesty and sincerity of the communications minister, it seems a bit unusual for a prime minister for being biased and attacking the critics.

In our country, it is very unusual that a minister withdraws himself admitting his failure to retain love and trust of the common people, except some gentlemen who, not for their unpopularity but for their uncomfortable stay in power, have done this.

When signing the agreement for the loan of the Padma Bridge in last April, the managing director of The World Bank told that they were highly concerned about the corruption issues in developmental projects and for this project, they want to see the proper use of the money. It indicates that how anxious they were about the possible misuse or corruption of this ministry. This type of feelings is not new or sudden for this high international organisation; rather, it is rooted deep and also in the history as well. The WikiLeaks published several documents on our communications minister and his ministry. One WikiLeaks report indicated that former US ambassador in Dhaka James F Moriarty branded Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain as a “less than honest” man in his business dealings. It is very frustrating not only for the government but also for the 160 million people of Bangladesh — and if you call it a shame, it is a shame for all of us.

“Some people are giving speeches and statements at Shaheed Minar. I ask them to place evidences, instead of shouting about corruption. Show me who, when and where corruption was committed. If I get the proof, he (the minister) will lose the job,” the prime minister said as a reaction to the programme, organised by the civil society at the Shaheed Minar on the last Eid day. The role of civil society is better known by our politicians. If we recollect the time from the Liberation War to the last military-led government, we can clearly visualise their role, their commitment and their devotion. The people who gathered in the Shaheed Minar never dream of becoming a minister and also would never want to hold that much power and money. Rather, they were there only because millions of people were suffering on the roads and death rate in road accidents was on the rise and also the conditions of roads were deteriorating fast. We cannot deny the importance of having a strong civil society in a democratic country.

If we have a look at the neighbouring country, India, and compare its situation to that of Bangladesh, we will have two different pictures. Anna Hazare was on a hunger strike in protest against the growing menace of corruption and the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh was found busy in breaking his strike not by threat but through consolation and assurance. And when the civil society, ruling party leaders, opposition, international agencies and millions of common people are demanding an initiative against the communications minister, alleging him to be corrupt, on real or perceived grounds, the prime minister is playing the very opposite role. To her, the ministers are too immature to do corruption. People do not expect such type of words from the head of the government.

It is really a pity! Will there be no change in the fate of the poor population of the country? Will they eternally suffer? Whenever any party comes to power, its leaders think it as an absolute one and they start doing whatever they like. Being frustrated and exhausted with the previous rule of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the mass people spontaneously voted for Awami League which has a glorious history of politics. Especially, for its role in the Liberation War, people will never forget to pay tribute to the founder of this party, the Father of the Nation. People rejected BNP for mainly two reasons: corruption and outrageous activities of Chhatra Shibir, the students’ wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh. Almost all wanted to believe the manifesto that Awami League came up with, before the election. But after almost three years, people are calculating the simple math; they are trying to find out the gap between debit and credit.

Even the recent attacking attitudes of the two chiefs of the two parties have added a new thought for causing some kind of panic among the common people. Is the country again going to face a collusive political environment? Why don’t we learn from history? Why do we forget that history repeats itself? History says that without any of these two political parties, no election can be successful; it will just destroy some lives, still some blood, and cause sheer wastage of some resources and give birth to some ugly history of ‘shame again-shame history’ of our democracy. Once BNP had to pay for this and now again if the ruling party today thinks that it can carry on the national election without the BNP, the country will have to face the same situation again. And now in this situation when we are dreaming for a prosperous economy, none in the country wants to face the realities.

People are now really on a wait to see that the political leaders will come out of their domain of personal gain and interest, and work for the country — and for the countrymen.

The writer works for an international organisation. He can be reached at



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