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WC soccer invigorates politics in Bangladesh

Published : Sunday, 24 June, 2018 at 12:00 AM  Count : 792

Anis Ahmed

Anis Ahmed

Are we going to rest ever? Perhaps never! I feel so by seeing the growing "madness" of our people right at this moment over the ongoing World Cup football championship, during which thousands of different types of clothes have been sold, stitched, hung and carried to demonstrate support for top favourites Brazil and Argentina. Next comes Germany.

We the Bangladeshis are always very enthusiastic about sports, be it soccer, cricket or participation in any kind of clashes -- political or on quota reforms movement or others. We are an agile, often aggressive, and often not withstanding with realities as a nation. But make no mistake; I don't exclude myself from all or any of the mentioned groups!

However, I never wake up through the night to see any other countries playing soccer. Cricket usually ends before midnight when held in flood light but soccer, oh God! People who cannot even kick a dog because of being old and frail  raise their legs sitting before the house TV as if kicking the ball and to send it past the goal post ! We appreciate sports, crave for fair play, and more eagerly translate this in our day today or political lives. Sadly, there we fail miserably.

The biggest sport in our country is politics, where the big teams are Awami League (AL) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). They play round the year with direct and indirect participation of all the country's men and women -- who unfortunately or by God's will often stop playing at the final of the game, the elections. People linked to the major parties are often whimsical too.

Here, only a part of the population cast their ballots (or can cast) while the rest become spectators on the field. They watch, have no opinion or voice, while the team going down take recourse to violence and cheating. Yet one team officially wins and other loses.The World Cup soccer will come to the end soon. Cricket has no greater future in Bangladesh as ace players are heading towards or being lured into politics -- which is part of a nasty game where the play is unfair. We are now bracing for the biggest election, the 11th parliamentary polls around end of this year, and a series of city corporation elections in its run up.

The CC polls are no less critical or jubilant, fearsome or enthusiastic in terms of people's desperation to get their chosen parties or contestants through the winning arches. They give out everything for their leaders who in turn usually forget them immediately after the results of the polls are published and the winners distribute sweets and shower their supporters with pledges of fetching them the noon from the sky. There are some lucky ones who are always blessed and get the share of illegal wealth and jewels.

The parliamentary elections are the championship held once in five years in Bangladesh. But the style and rules of the game in South Asia vary from most other countries of the world. In Bangladesh, the basic rule is to defeat the opposition even by denying voters their right to cast ballots and choose a government. The same rule applies in Pakistan and other South Asian countries but the most docile is the government and people of Bhutan. They measure "gross domestic happiness" instead of "gross domestic products" in other countries. Bhutan is our good neighbour nestled on the hill top.

The every next election in Bangladesh has been messier in Bangladesh than the previous one -- and the same is likely to repeat in the CC polls in Gazipur later this month. Then will come other city elections where the A team (AL) will play the B team (BNP) -- and there will be allegation and counter allegation of vote rigging, fraud, bias, cheating, intimidation and .if all goes as feared, violence.

Law enforcers have been readied to beat the rowdy off. Election Commission with its different "cadres" of employees are ready to roll out, parties contesting the CCs are lining up their own "troops" to fight, win or at least scare their rivals. Tom-Dick-Harry will have their heyday during and before the polls and be blessed with cash and kind!

Bigger the election is bigger the booty. So, all eyes including the good and bad are on the parliamentary elections where the fight could be intense if the B team is allowed to take the field and try its luck fairly and fully in the vote. But as of now the chances are not very bright.
In the run up, they are watching the World Cup soccer to learn the tricks, how to commit foul and save the corner shots and judge the role of the referees and match managers.

Bangladesh, home to 160 million people, has several hundred political parties, most of them unknown to the people and even the Election Commission, which recently  barred 73 out of 75 newly applied for registration, media reports said. So, only two of them are qualified to do politics and join the vote. But how many other small or fringe parties are already in the field is anybody's guess. They are fed by the big parties, hoping to get their votes. Let us wait for the WC soccer to finish and the people get some time to sit back and ponder how they play in the CC and national polls. It would be quite interesting to watch, we believe.

The author is Executive Editor,
The Daily Observer

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