Why our people support questionable political leaders?
Politics is like a tree that bears fruits seasonally or through the year bringing the creator's best gifts for us who are often not that much grateful though. Coming back to earth where real life plays its tricks and gimmicks, we are more driven by benefits and promises of a bright future. And, that promise has to come from political parties or leaders for whom we dedicate our efforts. So, the bonding between politics and public is quite strong and lasts long unless one betrays the other. Also, display of over-allegiance is sometimes harmful too, showing the critics the way to find the loopholes in the relations and pin down the cost-benefit factor!
All these came starkly open before the eyes as Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chief and the former prime minister was put behind bars recently and signs suggest she may be staying there for quite some time. This hurts the ex-premier and saddens her followers and party stalwarts equally, leaving politics in a kind of uncertainty again.
The fate of former Prime Minister is the talk of the town right now. While her lawyers are preparing to move application in the court seeking bail for her, it is reported in the media that it may be a "long shot" as the authorities allegedly are preparing other cases of corruption and violence against her. People are not sure if BNP can retain its 'fragile' position in the national politics at the moment as, according to them the organizational strength of BNP is facing the biggest question ever. This is because scores of top BNP leaders are behind bars or on the run, facing multiple charges and awaiting proceedings in the court, and some frustrated over being deprived of power and influence may also be thinking to change their political preferences.
Assuming this possibility, the ruling Aweami League leaders have warned their subordinates against inducting any BNP-Jamaat activists in the party, instead give them a tough time so they would be 'neutralized' in politics. But this too is an ambitious a plan as the BNP is the second biggest political party in Bangladesh having a large following among the people, as it claims.
It was observed that people got very emotional over the court verdict against Khaleda. Not only the hardcore BNP supporters but also the general people reacted with a lot of emotion.
Not only for Begum Zia but also for our current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, it is reality that many people are emotional. We have seen similar reaction from the public when both leaders were arrested during the last controversial caretaker government.
The emotion sometimes feels overwhelming and the sight is sometimes very painful or very delightful. But the question is for whom are we shedding tears? We need to judge our leaders as well as events which drive our emotions.
When Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to Bangladesh after getting released from the Pakistani prison, he received a great welcome from his tearful countrymen. Excited to have their loving leader back, emotions were flowing like a fountain. His contributions can never be denied as long as we live on Bangladeshi soil.
But it cannot be same for Begum Khaleda Zia, political analysts say. She has been found guilty of allegedly 'stealing' the money of orphans. Many BNP leaders and supporters are claiming that, this verdict was a political agenda to frame Begum Zia. Even if that is the case, is there anyone to claim that she was not involved with any sort of corruption during her office as prime minister? In Bangladesh, dishonest leadership is often more popular, like, for example, Khaleda's exiled son Tarique Rahaman facing series of criminal and other charges.
But irrespective of good or bad, people's attachment to the leaders of different parties are endemic and surprising to independent analysts. They ask why the people, often knowing their leaders are dubious, support them so profusely. The answer is not clearly known but we can guess supporters have become accustomed fishing in troubled waters. So they gang up behind whatever leaders.
However, attachments really do not mean allegiance. At times when leaders are facing odds and likely to be caged for long, the supporters mostly evaporate like seasonal birds. Therefore, anything that matters about support and emotion just get inflated during the elections when leaders share "bread and butter" with party activists.
Supporting anyone for a dime is an old political practice in Bangladesh.
It is a reality that we have lost our ability to judge what is good for us. We have taken corruption as granted. We forgot how to challenge ill practices. Most of our people especially in the rural areas are uneducated. The level of education that has been considered to count the literacy rate is actually no education. In urban areas, the rate of education is somewhat higher and a corrupt plan is in action to destroy the education system of Bangladesh as it is easier to dominate and manage uneducated citizens.
Rohingyas in Myanmar were wiped off their rights and generations of uneducated people were created. And we can see what has happened to them. They could not fight for their rights and were brutally tortured. They could not challenge the system.
We might endure the same future as our students are losing their values and morality at school. They are waiting for the leaked question papers. This is destroying our education system as well as is taking away our chance to grow up as a responsible citizen who can contribute to the future of the country. We must awake our conscience now. We cannot let that happen to ourselves.
We must shed tears only for those who have significantly sacrificed for the people, who have always fought for the people. We should not act ignorant by getting emotionally attached with those who will bank on our blood and honour. People of Bangladesh need to fight against corruption. If no student or their parents pay for the leaked questions, the criminals associated with question paper leaking will not do that voluntarily. So, it is our responsibility to act on whatever is ethical and good for us, our society and our country.
We should hold our emotions a bit and should not support any criminals. People should not waste their tears for corrupt leaders -- not today, not tomorrow. Rather we must hold it for the good leaders who will lead us to a better and competent Bangladesh.
The writer is Associate Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA)