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Living with the ghosts of Plassey!

Published : Tuesday, 23 June, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 431

Shahriar Feroze

Shahriar Feroze

One often wonders: For how long palace politics and politics of treason are being practiced in this part of the world?' Well officially, the traits had been officially recorded following the Battle of Plassey and, more specifically, with Mir Zafar and his band of accomplices.

Judged as one of the pivotal battles for the control of India -- the battle to establish a company - run - empire emerged more as an event full of trickery, palace politics and conspiratorial moves. In many ways, the battle, which was fought on June 23, 1757 tested the characters of the then ruling house of Bengal. Since then, conspiracy and treason laced with an incessant greed for power, had hounded our rulers.

Today, details of the battle may be inconsequential, but the nagging question as to why our countrymen conspired against their own people while paving the path for the British rule over India still has resonance. The main reasons were:  succumbing to temptations of power and wealth, absence of patriotism and profound flaws within the Mughal system of administration. However, 263 years on to this day, only the conspiracy modalities have changed, but the lust for power and wealth still looms large in today's Bangladesh.  

The political reality of Bangladesh since 1971 has often been riddled with uncertainty -- carefully engineered by certain individuals to get a stranglehold on power. Coups, counter coups, clandestine plotting, election manoeuvring, greed for capturing power fuelled numerous military uprisings in the late 70's and 80's, resulting in deaths, disappearances and kangaroo trials of thousands.

The conventional methods of palace politics have transformed at par with the need of a changing political system. True, we don't have a Clive accompanied by a Mir Zafar, military rule has become long past, but the trillion dollar question - how better are our current rulers compare to Clive and his accomplices?

We do have the political party in power that had waged a relentless struggle against oppressive Pakistan military regimes. That party was unexpectedly formed on the same day as the Battle of Plassey in 1949. And the party is yet far from taking Bangladesh to its desired destination. Though we do have Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's eldest daughter spearheading the nation's destiny, but it's time to analyse and evaluate the sincerity and commitment of her loyalist party leaders surrounding her.

Some of the dark chapters of Bangladesh still remain nebulous though one wouldn't be wrong in stating that many of the key players of the 70s , 80s and 90s are still active today, brazenly sporting the facade of innocence. Mir Zafar's true colours came out when he openly rebelled against Siraj but honestly speaking, Bangladeshi elements of vice outfox the villains of Plassey in all departments. The Ghoseti Begums, Umichands, Jagath Seths and Mir Zafars never die rather they keep transforming from one being to another -- just to appear on the right time at the right place but with a different identity.

One such Mir Zafar incarnate was Khondaker Mostaque Ahmed in Bangabandhu's cabinet to have caused internal schism among the diehard patriots of Awami League.

However, our rulers of today, understandably, don't have to travel far to undertake all the thorny challenges to conquer colonies. In the likes of the rhetoric brown sahibs, they yet continue to depend on applying cunning and wicked techniques. During the Company and crown's rule, wealth was surely looted and transferred to England. The same continues to happen in the name of illegal capital outflow and looting of public banks. The British violently suppressed expressions of patriotism and free-speech. And today patriotism seems to be standing on a new foundation based on party-specific loyalty and extreme populism. To cut a long story short, all elements of Clive's colonial rule keeps thriving within the boundaries of an independent and sovereign nation. My last point in line, having learnt all the impiety of the British what's the good that we had learnt from them?

Their imperialistic political ideology had surely caused severe damage to the countries of the British Empire but not to the nation Britain herself. While their colonies neared the verge of collapse - the Britons guaranteed the most effective form of democracy for themselves. Though destructive for others but they ensured to remain always best for their country and people. Could our rulers ensure even that? We not only made a mockery of the parliamentary democracy, our politicians had distorted and abused the system for remaining in power for life.  

However, up until now, Plassey stands out as a classical example of how military superiority becomes impotent in the face of wicked palace politics and betrayal caused by an external force. More to it, it stands out as a model on how to manipulate the people in power so to legitimise an illegal regime.

The moral of the story -- vice within is the worst enemy. Sadly, after more than two and half centuries later, these rancid elements continue to thrive in today's Bangladesh. The ghosts of Plassey are seen and heard every day, though they appear in different faces, they are here and they are there, and they live nearby this writer.
The writer is Assistant Editor, News & Editorial, The Daily Observer

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