Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Saturday, January 17, 2015, Magh 4, 1421, Robiul Awal 25, 1436 Hijr


Unhealthy politics: A threat to public safety
DR SHAIRUL MASHREQUE
Published : Saturday, 17 January, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 24
[Both the government and the BNP-led 20 party alliance should soften their stands coming to resolve the piercing political crisis through dialogue. For the country has plunged into a deep political crisis with both the parties-a dispute almost reaching the point of no return. Besides loss of valuable human lives with many becoming physically handicapped the economy has been hard hit]


The contemporary politics in a seemingly hazy political landscape like Bangladesh suffers from the process of depersonalization as intolerance among the politicians has reaching a dizzying height Distressingly democratic institutions in Bangladesh have been somewhat affected by distortion-ridden political culture. Parliamentary participation has been going through the process of depersonalization with damaging effects on society and economy. The very recent showdown with bickering and squabbling hit the news headlines and became the talk of the town for a couple of days. The destructive politics now-a day has become a sad overtone frustrating the masses. The people do not expect any erratic behaviour from the politicians that may tarnish the image of the country.
Bangladesh syndrome of destructive politics has been well reflected in the way the politicians conducted themselves under the whirlpool of emotional predisposition far away from sense and sensibility, reason and rationality. With zero tolerance policy is sliding into anarchy with some members showing strength without any qualm of decency and decorum. The unmitigated confrontational politics centring vandalism and killings adds to the current level of political intolerance that makes urban and peri-urban areas a rumpus with rolling noise and warring gesture of party cadre comparable to terrifying dances of ghosts. They have been bogged down to ever increasingly rowdiness and rusticism. Deeply involved in blame game some quarrelsome leaders, as we have seen TV channels, made a terrible show with slang in local dialect.
This is the indication that our old culture continues. 'We have progressed very little from the mindset of "winner takes it all and loser has nothing to gain". 'The ruling party and the opposition still remain far from the desired level of interaction and communication expected in a healthy parliamentary democracy. The opposition hardly sit in the house and take politics to the street.
Given the historical legacy of bitterness, lack of vision of top political elites and power-centric nature of the political parties clean political culture is a far cry. Overcoming the crisis necessitates high level of tolerance among the politicians and memorandum of understanding for ironing out the difference and reducing communication gap despite political divide on historical reasons. We do not want that the country goes back to the sordid era of misgovernance with the premonition signalling the reincarnation of one eleven political changeover.
The happy New Year has turned into unhappy one. The beginning seems ominous signalling politics from deadlock to dead-end. Public sufferings mainly the pedestrians and passengers knew no bound during prolonged blockade strengthened (9 consecutive days) by hartal in some districts. Local units of BNP-led 20-party alliance and its components called separate dawn to dusk hartal in 10 districts. Stalemate has been continuing as both parties -government and opposing forces- remain intransient determined not move even an inch. No sign of compromise. BNP's ring leader expressed determination to go ahead with the hard programme until the ruling alliance steps down. Even Viswa Ijtema including Akheri Munajat was not spared. The activists made the devotees go through suffering and tribulations. Country-wide hartal was called following attack on Reaz Rahman, the former deputy foreign minister. His car was torched by miscreants.
As a matter of fact the people have been hostage blockade, anarchy and violence. On the other hand the government takes a very serious view of the situation determined to deal strictly with political turmoil. The pm asked the people to face terror and militants resorting to violence in the name of blockade. She expressed her farm determination to protect lives and property of the citizens.
However, we must comment that both the government and the BNP-led 20 party alliance should soften their stands coming to resolve the piercing political crisis through dialogue. For the country has plunged into a deep political crisis with both the parties-a dispute almost reaching the point of no return. Besides loss of valuable human lives with many becoming physically handicapped the economy has been hard hit. According to news reports:
A rolling transport blockade organised by the opposition is taking a huge toll on Bangladesh's economy, with the vital garment industry hit particularly hard, a business leader warned Sunday. Opposition leader Khaleda Zia called the open-ended blockade of roads, railways and waterways after she was confined to her office by police on January 3 while trying to mobilise anti-government protests. In the nine days that Zia has been locked in her office, supporters of her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have taken to the streets in their hundreds, torching vehicles and even derailing trains by removing tracks. The country's top business chamber told AFP the transport sector alone had been losing two billion taka (S$34.38 million) a day since the blockade began, with at least 200,000 buses and lorries kept off the road for fear of attacks."The disruption in the transport sector has created immense troubles for the passengers and also hampered supply of goods," said Kazi Akramuddin Ahmed, president of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry "Farmers are the worst sufferers. Their vegetables are rotting on the fields," he said, adding they were "deeply concerned" at the worsening political crisis. Zia leads a 20-party opposition alliance which boycotted a general election last year on the grounds it would be rigged. She has said the blockade will continue until Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina agrees to new polls organised by a caretaker government. At least 162 buses, lorries and cars have been torched while hundreds more have been damaged. Train schedules have also gone haywire after several major services were derailed, leaving at least 50 people injured. One person died in a hospital in Dhaka after he was firebombed on a bus, police said, bringing the toll in the unrest to nine. At least 250 people have been injured, including 86 policemen. Authorities have provided guards for buses and lorries going to ports. The paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh has said it alone has provided security to some 3,000 buses and trucks Ahmed said garment manufacturers, who account for 80 per cent of the country's US$27.3 billion annual exports, fear the worst since a prolonged blockade could prompt Western retailers to divert orders to other nations."The impact has not been visible yet, but the supply chain has been disrupted and naturally garment sector won't be immune from the fallout," he said. Bangladesh is the world's second largest garment exporter after China. The sector provides jobs for four million people, mostly women, and has spurred economic growth to over six per cent a year in the last decade.
It is high time to ponder over the matter with due seriousness. The ruling party must allow the BNP-led 20party alliance to stage demonstration in the open political field without adopting any violent tactics. There is a need to share views on the possible way out to bring political stand off to an end. At least democracy-friendly political environment may well be created with government initiatives. In the next column I would like to offer a volley of suggestion to help the government and the opposing forces to come to a consensus.
Dr Shairul Mashreque is Professor of public administration, Chittagong University






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