The political pendulum post 1/11 has an amazing run so far.
Immediately after 1/11 things looked very good. Politics was rlatively free. Press freedom was in full swing. ACC, EC and judiciary reform seemed to be going in the right direction. Two main political leaders Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, both enjoying SSF security and special protocol, were free to continue indoor politics. It looked like a real CTG rule.
The scenerio changed quite dramatically since then. With arrest of top leadership of BNP including Tareq Rahman and house confinement of Khaleda and her other son, it was felt that BNP got efectively hijacked by turncoats like Mannan Bhuiyan. Awami League was quit vocal. Sheikh Hasina tried to lure the government in supporting AL.
Then Minus two plan got unveiled. Hasina was being barred from returning home and Khaleda was being pushed out. AL was still very vocal against government moves. AL reformers unsuccessfully tried to steal the show. There was very few people around to speak on behalf of Khaleda. Hannan Shah got arrested after a short span of loud dissent. Mannan Bhuiyan looked all set to take over BNP. Exile plan eventually failed.
Sheikh Hasina got arrested. Awami League reformers took a hit and went into hibernation. Khaleda Zia started talking in teleconferences after supreme court rule against her confinement. She launched biting campaign against Mannan Bhuiyan gong. Prothom Alo editor Motiur Rahman and coumninst Zafar iqbal wrote editorials demanding arrest iof Khaleda Zia.
Khaleda Zia got arrested. BNP office remained under lock and key by government police. BNP conformists however regrouped quite strongly under new Secy General Khondker Delowar Hossain. Mannan Bhuiyan led pro CTG fraction started looking out of momentum.
In Awami League, it initially looked like pro Hasina conformists were in control. Some pro CTG leaders got beaten up by activists. However AL leader Tofail Ahmed went in disguise of a reborn conformist, became close to acting president Zillur Rahman and started influencing him. Tofail Ahmed shrewdly turned the table in AL. He rapidly made himself the guiding force of Zillur Rahman and Motia Chy, Sajeda and other conformist leadership got sidelined.
And it looks now AL is being controlled by pro CTG reformists. ( Tofail again proved himself). Zillur Rhman does not criticize the government anymore. And more alarmingly, they don’t demand the release of Sheikh Hasina. Looks like Awami League has finally taken the stand Tofail Razzak wanted to take all along. Be supportive of this government. Do some lip service for Sheikh Hasina to keep the base happy. And hope to return to power as a part of the exit strategy of the CTG.
On the other hand, Khondkar delowar led BNP is now getting more organized and started acting normally showing all political maturity. They are demanding release of both leaders and hinting at a joint movement for their release. They have already started their initial campaign against what they percieve as partisan role of election commission. Simply they want to give back exactly what they received during the last five years rule.
High profile court battle looms over confinement of political leaders. The pendulum will keep on moving. Dec 2008 seems a long long way from now.
People unfortunately do tend to forget that pendulum only moves in two directions alternately. You can try to move the pendulum in other directions, but it will eventually keep moving the bi-directional way.