December 2006


Nobel laureate Dr Yunus stressed this point all along. “Bangladesh has no option but going to election. People will need to start the festivities of election. Once festivities start all the violence and deadlock will be over.”

Looks like Dr Yunus, again, was right. Bangladesh is indeed going to elections. And festivities, fanfare all are already here. It will go on for the next 30 days.

Good luck Bangladesh with election 2007.

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Many years ago, I was just an elementary school kid then. We used to live in a walled government residential quarter and just outside the wall there was the huge slum. During those years, up from my upper floor balcony, I had an up close look at the slum life of Bangladesh.

Every morning their day started with a noisy quarrel. As the day proceeded the noise used to heat up. It was like everybody was fighting with everybody. Morning, noon, evening and night. And along with these quarrel, life used to go on. Cooking, shopping, gossiping and even quite frequent procreation; all used to go on quite aptly in this non stop quarrel environment.

Since I started blogging I feel like I went back to those days. Now I myself is quarreling, day in day out. Everybody is busy fighting with each other.

Then I look out of the blog world and to the real world. Its’ the same thing there too. Its’ nothing but Hoongkar and palta Hoongkar. Look at the TV screens–that’s all the same. Politicians, in public meetings, in press conferences, in TV shows, in party meetings—everywhere they are busy with relentless yelling at each other.

Shamefully our nation is divided.

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The Concert for Bangladesh is one of the greatest moments of our war of independence. We all know of Mr George Harrison as the organizer of the concert. Sadly, we started talking of him after his death. And still today, we don’t have any significant permanent display of respect for him. Do we have any road, theater, gallery, concert hall named after him? Is he in our children’s history books?

And more importantly, while celebrating George Harrison and the concert for Bangladesh, we tend to forget the main person behind the concert for Bangladesh. It was Pundit Ravi Shankar who first thought of this concert. He convinced George Harrison enough to step on this never heard before concept of arranging a concert for a political cause.

Here is how George Harrison himself testifies Ravi Shankar as the architect of the idea.

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35 years ago today, Bangladesh was born. And this is how Time magazine witnessed the bloody birth of Bangladesh.

Our struggle of independence concluded with the decisive victory of the joint Indian and Bangladeshi forces against Pakistani forces. Here is the historic moment of surrender of Pakistani army.

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35 year ago today many of our national intellectual icons were brutally murdered in an attempt to intellectually cripple the new country Bangladesh.

Our victory celebrations after 16th December were being overshadowed by grim discoveries of one after another killing field. Most destabilizing discovery was that of Rayer Bazaar. All of our national top doctors, professors, linguists, scientists were among the eviscerated dead bodies found here.

This is footage of the discovery of Rayer Bazar killing field. This is very graphic. But I ask viewers to watch it. We must see these. (My brothers and sisters whose family members were among those killed need not see the pictures. You already suffered enough and are still suffering).
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Which way our country, our democracy is heading?

Do we need to do any second guessing on what will be the fate of our democracy if BNP can go by doing all what they are doing now?

Let me be a little bit more explicit,

1. The caretaker government system, we take pride in, will become non-existent. Respected people will not be part of it anymore. It will turn into a party stooge.

2. Like those communist party regimes in east Europe, every institute in the country will be under the control of a political party or its activists.
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1. We often forget that access to basic healthcare is one of brazenly abused human rights issue in Bangladesh.
2. There is a total failure as well as lack of will and plan to implement an appropriate primary healthcare system in Bangladesh.
3. Value of a life and the urgency , the medical community need to show to save each and every life are very much missing.
4. There is no effective state system to ensure that the medical professionals are held accountable for the service they render to their patients.
5. Although the government has a very well designed and amazingly extensive healthcare infrastructure, the management of this system is an absolute failure.
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Well, we are again back to the “Evil Lord”, this time evil lord the 3rd is responsible all the political mayhem in the country. .

It started with Evil Lord the 1st, Justice Khandkar Mahbubul Hasan ( KM Hasan), then was the turn of Evil Lord the 2nd, Justice M A Aziz and now we are down to the 3rd evil lord S M Zakaria.

Over the days, in repeated cycles, we watched how the demands kept on shrinking from 31 point to 11 point to 4 point to 1 point demand against the evil family.

Country was forcefully shut down for days, dozens of people got killed, Dhaka became a scene of gruesome medieval war movie, and Hasan declined. What a victory! Iajuddin came.

Another week of oborodh, economy in standstill, communications halted, millions of people suffered, people died, finally Aziz went on 3 month all paid, all secured vacation (jealous I am!). Another victory! Two new EC, Modabbir, Saiful came.

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Time International Cover Story

As the fictional character Don Quixote was fighting the windmills, our immediate past opposition political parties’ focus was quite stubbornly locked at the “Hawa Bhaban” and all the corruption monsters that lived there.

All the chatters, starting from the top leader to the street level worker, inevitably centered around Hawa Bhaban and the emerging BNP leader Tareq Rahman, his expensive suite, alleged gambling, NYSE gold medal, and the free for all Malaysia story (every time I wanted to know what happened, I heard a new but contradicting story).

And while all these quixotic battle against the Hawa Bhaban was going on, a bunch of young leaders of BNP along with Tareq Rahman, disseminated out of Hawa Bhaban into many smaller low profile offices around the upscale neighborhoods in Dhaka. During the last five years, Hawa Bhaban remained as the symbolic office of BNP chairperson to be used for pre-election public activities.

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All of them satrted as the underdog, the victim.

First let’s talk about Salma, a 16 year old from a remote village, sang all the way up the limelight of beaming CloseUp 1 stages. Everytime she sings, her underdog status generates sentiment throughout the nation and ensures her a good some 300,000 votes whatever she sings.

Salma

And she changed, amazingly witin a month. See how she changed from this to that.

And both of our top two leaders started as the victim also, as the the underdog. Sympathy of a murdered family or a murdered husband earned them millions of followers and votes.

And they also started like this

Hasina Khaleda Shahabuddin

Later became this

Hasina Khaleda

ultimately this.

Hasina Khaleda

At this time, to the nation these three women are the good, bad and the ugly. While there is no doubt about who is the good one, the nation is devided into two halves in deciding who is bad and who is ugly. Half the nation believes one is bad and the other is ugly while the other half vice versa. And as we talk now, they are locked in pitched battle to settle the issue.

1. I have a feeling that the current political impasse is going to be over soon. The compromise package of the CTG advisers is going to be a successful one.

2. Because,
(A) Too much pressure of Awami League grassroot in favor of going to election.
(B) A political mistake by BNP. After a series of very intelligent steps to outmeneuver the AL led 14 party, when some quarter in BNP forced the president in nominating two controversial new EC, it deliberately threw the momentum of the war towards the alliance of 14 party.
(C) Whirlwind tours of the foreign envoys. The pressure was probably more on Awami League.

3. BNP low command (Apparently BNP decisions are made by the low profile command led by Tareque rahman, not by the the old men at high command standing body ) feels that enough has happened to somehow erase the memory of the immediate past government’s failures like load shedding, price hikes etc.

4. BNP however will have to take an big U turn on it’s policy regarding election commission and no compromise.

5. Just observe the politics of BNP and compare that of Awami League. While AL was in street agitation and unpopular activities like oborodh, BNP leader is following a long planned series of events. After taking one week off the limelight, Khaleda Zia is hitting the media daily with meeting series with professionals. Go investigate, you will find how many weeks in advance the auditoriums at Bangladesh China Friendship auditium were booked. After that series is over now she will be in the media almost daily with one joining ceremony a day. Yesterday was a BJP leader from Comilla, Today was Aorongo from Shariatpur. It will go on unil she will start the candidate interview and then the campaign itself.
And see what what Sheikh Hasina did yesterday? She finally met professionals. the teachers. A copycat move. And where did she meet them? At the engineer’s institure, the meeting place of the 60s and 70s. And where Khaleda met teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, agriculturists? Two weeks ago she met them at the state of the art auditoriums at China Friendship auditorium and BIAM.
I believe organizational level leadership in Awami League need new blood.

6. Factor Ershad.

Let me give you one example why Tareq Rahman et el are so desparate for Ershad.

2005 Dinajpur 1

Monoronjon Shil Gopal (JP rebel) 1,12,977 votes
Aftab Mollah of Jamaat 50, 575 votes
No Awami League in the field.

2001 Dinajpur 1

Abdullah Kafi of Jamaat 88,000 votes.
Abdur Rouf of AWami League 62,000 votes
Monoronjon hil Gopal of JP 41,000 votes.

Now please do the math of alliances.

7. By the way what Ershad is upto now a days? Which side his party is with now?

8. Can anyone tell me what happens if BNP accepts the advisors package and Awami League does not? The advisors are the government, will they have any moral obligation left but to go ahead and fullfill the constitutinal obligation of holding an election, be it without Awami League? Will a continued oborodh bring in the much sought after mass upsurge?

The previous post tried to discuss how an election is rigged in Bangladesh.

Here are some common observations about rigging an election by casting fake votes with erroneously entered names.

1. If there is near 50/50 or even 60/40 chance of any of the two parties to win and with all the major political parties taking part, rigging probably won’t change the election outcome drastically. The factors that will help in such an election are
(A) Casting of fake votes will be challenged by the grassroots rival activists in contested constituencies.
(B) Unchallenged casting of fake votes in one area will be countered by fake votes cast in the rival’s stronghold in another
area.
(C) In constituency like Gopalganj 3 or Bogra 7, the result is so one sided and certain that fake votes won’t dent the results.
(D) Mid level officials take the polling seriously and they feel accountable. In one sided or a already decided election, these
officials don’t have that pressure.

2. Rigging is by no means a one sided affair. All the major political parties or locally strong candidates will try to rig the election by means of fake voting.

3. Probably there is no real meaning to the words like ‘Media coup’ or ‘Fine rigging’ (Shukhkho Karchoopi) in a post 1990 national election. Let me explain why it is not possible. Parliamentary election is in fact 300 different elections. And each different election is also in fact a sum of elections in 100-500 election centers. Votes are polled in each center and counted in the center itself in front of agents of all parties. Then the sealed results, signed by presiding officer as well as the ballots are sent to the DC office. So, if there is any such suspicion, you simply can go back to the individual polling center wise results and add the numbers together. And remember, the counting of each center was witnessed by agents of all the candidates.

4. Occasionally polling centers are occupied forcefully and ballots are cast for a candidate. In a high profile election with better road and telecommunication in Bangladesh, these sorts of crimes are getting more and more difficult to commit. Now a days such attempts are instantly reported by candidates agents via cell phone network and the candidate can have the DC postpone the elections or send magistrate to then center. Candidates themselves sometimes rush to the center with his team.

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The Election engineering

The phrase, Election engineering, is being used more frequently during these days. Everyone believe that the proposed 2007 election will surely be engineered by BNP.

Lets discuss what is election engineering and how it can be prevented.

Not so black and white.

There is a common believe among these diasporas that the current EC is all bad and the former EC led by Abu Hena was all good. Well, here are some facts,

These are the immediate two past elections in Bangladesh,

1. Dinajpur 1 By election supervised by CEC Aziz and SM Zakaria. It was a Jamaat seat from 2001 became vacant as jamaat leader Kafi died.

AL boycotted the bye election. Manaranjan Shil Gopal, an ex JP men, ran independent and bagged 1,12, 977 vote and defeated Jamaat candidate who bagged only 50,000 votes. Jamaat-BNP used all their means to win back the seat. Jamaat activist were arrested while disbursing money among hired people. However in 2001 Jamaat candidate got 90,000 vote while Gopal got only 40,000 vote.

2. CTG Mayor race was won by AL‘s Mohiuddin Chy by about 100,000 votes. This vote was also supervised by S M Zakaria while Aziz joined within days. Abu Hena already gone. BNP-Jamaat led by Tareq Rahman put maximal weight to defeat Mohiuddin Chy.

3. Then let’s discuss another election when CEC was Abu Hena and EC was janatar mancha famed Shafiur Rahman. It was much talked about Dhaka 10 bye election where Falu defeated Mannan by 30,000 votes, where Falu got 70,000 votes and mannan got 40,000 votes. Abu Hena or Shafiur Rahman had to supervise these shameful farce of an election.

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