Webster dictionary explains the meaning of corruption as
1. impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle, depravity
2. decay, decomposition
3. inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery)
4. a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct.

Where as world bank’s conventional definition of corruption is ”the ‘abuse of public office for private gain”. Liberating ourselves from the way World Bank wants us to think, if we stick to the broader and a more meaningful meaning of Corruption, as noted in the Webster, I believe corruption is not definitely something that was created during last 15 years of democracy.

For the sake of time and space I’ll confine myself to the most recent history of our political geography and will start on June 23rd. June 23 of 1757 was the day when general Mir Zafar betrayed his leader Nabab Shiraj ud Doula and helped Col Clive win the battle of Plassey. I don’t know whether Mir Zafar stole money from the exchequer, but I know, for sure, that his act of treachery/ corruption sold the independence of Bengal to East India Company.

Then we saw repeat of this history many times, Mir Zafars kept on returning on every act of the political theater of Bengal. British Raj created a Babu class who will act against the interest of their creed and the country for materialistic benefits. Material benefit drove people to sacrifice their loyalty, allegiance, virtue all throughout the history.

During our war of independence, a very small portion (AL Badr, Al Shams) of the collaborators were ideologically against a secular independent Bangladesh. A majority of them were Rajakars. They were mostly community grassroots political activists and some top central leadership who found it more beneficial (Both fiscally, politically) to side with apparent mightier Pakistan Army. Without any apparent ideological reason, this vast majority of the collaborators took up arms against their own people, betrayed the blood/ethnic bond only to enjoy the empowerment and some materialistic gain.

Along came August 15, 1975. Suddenly whole of top ranking Awami League became staunch Anti Mujib. For many there were two options, either go into temporary political hibernation or again get the garland of ministerial perk/ power/money and betray loyalty to Mujib. For most of the leaders, the temptation of renewal of ministerial perk was much stronger than the shame of betraying Mujib. When President Zia came in, the 75 turncoat politicians became role model. All were lining up to sacrifice their life long political belief and hard work to be part of the ruling party and take a bite at the ruler’s pie.

When President Zia was killed, these people won’t even wait a year before becoming staunch critique of BNP (Zia’s party). What we are seeing today at the lobby and drawing room at Mannan Bhuiyan residence was played line by line, word by word during early 1982. During that time Huda- Matin started the pet talk of reform, debated over who controls more councilors and called for a Tolobi ( Requisition) council at Beauty Cinema Hall forming a new party called BNP ( Huda-Matin) which later merged with Ershad’s JP. Ershad’s nine years were in fact the hay day for the morally and financially corrupt. All who could absorb the shame of back stabbing the decade long principle, the suffering comrades, jumped Ershad bandwagon.

Last week I was watching a TV talk show where the two discussants were Ex Minister Ziauddin Bablu and Zahiruddin Sawpon. These two people are now staunch supporters of the current government. Bablu used his Chhatra Dal status to sell himself to Ershad, left BNP and joined Ershad’s government as minister. Similarly Swapon used his status as President of Biplobi Chhaatra Moitree to join BNP when BNP returned to power. Now both are trying to appease the current rulers to be part of the pie eating contest again.

The temptation sometimes may be way too high and people who once resisted later fall for it. Tofael is one such example.

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The reason I resorted to such a long story is to make the following point,

1. This culture of turncoat politics has ruined our politics. Politics has turned into a profession for the soul less opportunists devoid of ideology and morality.

2. Trust is missing in Bangladesh politics now a day. This led to dynastic control in Bangladesh politics. Political leaders are failing to trust his/her comrades and are being forced to resort to their family members, paving the way for familycracy. (e.g. can you tell me one name BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia can trust in case she is imprisoned?)

3. You eat the bread and butter to its last grain, enjoy the power/perks and would not lodge a single word of protest if your boss makes any mistake. On the contrary you defend all what the boss does only to maximize your gulping of the pie. But when the boss gets deposed, another stronger boss comes in town, you start crusade against old boss. This is corruption. Pure, basic, untainted corruption.

4. A question always comes; you do not hesitate for even a second before changing your allegiance to the stronger boss from the north end of the town. What will happen when an even stronger boss, may be the army chief of a different country, may be India may be Pakistan comes in town and demand your allegiance. Didn’t it happen in case of that stooge called Iajuddin? How safe is the country at the hand of these political prostitutes?

5. I would tend to say this moral corruption is worse than stealing public money. That makes Giausuddin Mamun less a criminal than Khondkar Mustaque, Huda, Sawpon, Moudud, Mannan, Suranjit, Amu etc. Do you agree?

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