December 2008

Please accept the results, Madam Khaleda Zia.

It is a really a bad time for your party and your family, no doubt. And it is extremely difficult to view anything positive out of these results, we know. And it also nearly impossible to give a positive spin to this whole debacle.

Still you have the chance to score a major victory out of these devastation. You would have been the ultimate victorious if you accepted the results and congratulate the winner. People of Bangladesh don’t forget, unless you let them forget (Exactly the way you let them forget great Zia and culprit Ershad and remember Syed Iskander, Shameem Iskander, Shahrin Islam Tuhin, your sons and all the sycophants). If you would have come out graciously this time, they would have remembered this five years later.

And if you complain of election irregularity, please come up with some credible data and fact. Someone has lost from a seat where from he never lost, can not be the proof of massive rigging. Even if there were engineering, would it change the results in 250 seats? Even if BNP was deprived of win in 70 seats, AL still gets a very comfortable majority. And even if AL-CTG-Military axis manages to engineer massive rigging and falsely win in 262 seats, where were your organization? Your party was supposed to be the largest in the country, how come the other side gets by doing all these major rigging? Where were your polling agents? Why did not your party protested early on in the day. Or why we did not hear of any massive scale rigging until after the result came out? How come your party becomes such a fool to manipulate?

If you have some proof of election engineering, let us know. No engineering can cause such a massive loss. But let us know to authenticate your rhetoric. You definitely need to ask question about Election Commission’s reluctance in announcing Noakhali 3 constituency where the brother of army chief was losing. You need ask question on results from hill tracts. But nothing should preclude you from accepting the verdict of peoples’ rejection of your party’s rule. No engineering can cause such major defeat.

So please accept the results, congratulate Mrs. Hasina and start soul searching. Weed out the opportunists and re-unite the party. You threw a big challenge by nominating Nasir Uddin Pintu etc. You have lost in your challenge. Now accept the defeat and clean the party of those who are not liked by people. You forced Dr B Chowdhury out of party, bring him back. Bring back Col Oli- Sheikh Razzaque Ali, Major Mannan et el. Start working on new leadership from selected student leaders of the 80s.

And definitely bring back late president Ziaur Rahman.

Accept the results, Madam. Accept the result. Don’t follow the hated destructive path of the politics of rejection and exclusion.

Please accept the result. And bring back Ziaur Rahman

The Parliamentary election of 2008 will be recorded as the ushering of a new age in Bangladesh democracy; it will definitely be a new and different kind of election.

Let’s discuss why this will not be a different election and why this will be.

Do any of you happen to know any schoolteacher, specifically a primary school teacher in Bangladesh? If you happen to meet them you will know how busy they have been lately. Teaching jobs in government schools esp. in rural schools are high-pressure jobs these days. The teachers are now constantly and meticulously supervised by donor agencies as well as the government, and in addition to teaching responsibilities they are now burdened with a plethora of housekeeping jobs including data entry, chart making, reporting etc.

The bellwether characters: who they are lining up with this year?

There are several political characters, you better call them political parasites who will try to sense in advance which big party is winning the upcoming election and they will attach themselves with that party/alliance before the election. Because they do these for their survival, these characters have quite amazing sixth sense and can predict quite reliably. Hence I find it appropriate to call them bellwether characters.

Below are several of these bellwether characters and who they are lining up with during this election season.

1. Anwar Hossain Monju. This man was powerful in Mujib rule, because he was Manik Mia’s son. He and his brother were heroes during Zia rule because his brother Moinul Hossain Hiru protested BAKSAL. Monju was a minister under Ershad rule. Because he was in hiding/jail after fall of Ershad, we don’t know his 1991 pre-election assessment. He lined with AL before 1996 election and as a reward remained as a powerful minister under AL rule for five more years. After being minister for 5 years under AL, he did not join hands with AL before 2001 re-election attempt of AL. He rather kept contact with BNP. Before the scheduled 2007 22nd Jan election, he joined BNP led 4 party alliance. And this time Anwar Hossain Monju is siding with AL led alliance.

2. Moinul Hossain Hiru. This man is quite muted this time following his humiliating removal from CTG. Still his preferences become rather clear looking at the editorial stand of Ittefaq, which Hiru controls now. He feels his back skin will be better protected under an AL government.

3. Naimul Islam Khan. A staunch sycophant of military authority during the post 1/11 days, Mr. Khan has suddenly turned himself into a vicious critique of the military government. Although he already published a daft of a Hasina victory speech and a Khaleda concession speech, he is showing some sort of uncertainty and apprehension about whom to support/promote. So looks like he is a bellwether for a very uncertain result.

4. The despot called Ershad is also a bellwether. But he is kinda reverse bellwether. In1991, expecting AL win, he sent message to help AL in places where AL-BNP is contesting. In 1996, he gave tacit support for BNP. And in 2001, after joining BNP Jamaat alliance, he quit the alliance at the last moment and formed his own alliance called islami oikyo front. This year he is backing AL. Al supporters should be very worried with Ershad’s bellwether record.

On December 29, we face a stark choice. We elect a new, morality-driven government. Or we revert to the predatory politics that left our lives a shambles more than two years ago.

Syed Badrul Ahsan, Editor, Current Affairs, The Daily Star. E-mail:

Mr Ahsan Also writes

…These days, there are people ready to impress upon you the grave truth of the damage Sheikh Hasina has done to herself by taking Ershad on board. She has befriended autocracy, these BNP-leaning men will inform you, with that sure glint in their eyes. You feel crestfallen, until you remember that the Begum has herself been poaching quite a few of the smaller autocrats who once glowed in the light of the bigger one.

Mr Ahsan then will give a laundry list of things; why an AL-Ershad merger is great thing. In his laundry lists Mr Ahsan mentions BNP’s partnership with Jamaat, CEC Aziz and cohorts of Ershad. And according to Mr. Ahsan, because BNP had all the gruesome bedfellows, it is the most perfect thing for AL to embrace Ershad.

And hence Ershad now epitomizes, as per Syed Badrul Ahsan, morality-driven government.

Hashbo Na Kadbo? I am totally dumbfounded. Mr Syed badrul Ahsan used to be my English teacher. For two years, he worked hard to infuse some knowledge of English literature in me and in my class. I can not be disrespectful to him. This beyond my ethics. But I must humbly request him to explain on what ground BNP Jamaat alliance justify AL-Ershad alliance? And Ershad’s ground reality is morality driven government! Excuse me! No offense intended. Is Mr. Syed Badrul Ahsan out of his ever loving mind?

While Lt gen HM Ershad was president of Bangladesh, in addition to his wife, he had at least two publicly known, declared or confessed girlfriends. One was Mary ( Mariam Mamtaz) who later moved to London and Ershad brought her a flat. Bangladesh high commission used to do all the errands for her and Ershad used to stay with her during his frequent London, Dubai tips. During those days there was no blog, internet etc. Publication of this was banned in Bangladesh. Jaijaidin got banned and Shafiq rehman went to jail trying to give a hint of the story. It was publised in a Bangla weekly from London and xerox copy of that news was sold in Dhaka like a hotcake.

Throughout his presidency, Ershad used Zeenat Hossain as his kept. Zeenat hossain was the wife of Musharraf Hossain ( Current BNP leader), the then secretary of energy/petroleum. Ershad was so rampant that he used to take Zeenat Hossain with him during different foreign tours.

Ershad married Bidisha ( 1/3rd his age) while he was still maried to Rawshan. He proposed and convinced Bidisha while she was still happily married to other man. He however hired some thug to beat up and kick Bidisha out of his home when he was told that this would help him get a better deal in seat sharing bargain with BNP. This was 2006. He then filed a case of mobile phone theft against Bidisha.

There are much more women and much more filthy stories. I don’t feel like writing anymore. I’ve to go and wash my hand now.

Anti Corruption Commission Chief Lt Gen Hassan Mashud Chowdhury claims that he is never afraid of resigning and he carries a letter of resignation in his shirt pocket. Looks like it is about time he takes the letter out of pocket and submit to relevant authorities.

The recent activity of ACC regarding a so called frozen account in Singapore was apparently an attempt to inflict a last moment election manipulating shock. This is called October surprise in US politics. By doing this the ACC has again proved that it has been working as a pawn and political tool in favor of the military chief Moeen controlled caretaker government. In the previous instances people gave them benefit of doubt, but this time it was blatant and brazen violation minimal decency and law of the land.

The problem is not that it worked against Arafat Rahman, it has the right to do so and it should investigate any suspect irrespective of who they are. But the problem is the way they did it. 7 days before election they presented a case against Arafat Rahman. They presented the story of a frozen account by quoting Singapore government. They did not say when the info was obtained and what was the proof that the company belonged to Arafat. The most mind boggling part of the story was that, they called press conference, narrated the crime and then they declared that they were starting an investigation on it soon. If they had not yet started an investigation why they would inform the nation of the crime. What if the investigation concludes that the allegations of money laundering was false?

Will Gen Hasan Mashud Chowdhury be able to revert the effect of his deed on the election? How can he now deny that he used ACC as a tool to harass politicians all along.

It is about the time for him to leave the sacred duties he does not deserve. Please bring that letter out of your pocket and let anti corruption commission work independently.

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