January 2011

So far

74 blogs and 1821 comments posted in different blogosphere about this movie

14 op eds written in different news outlets

74081 emails were written in 3561 email threads involving 7003 people


… all within a span of a week


This is about a movie


which tells an ajgubi story of a love affair of Pakistani military officer with a Bengali girl in occupied Bangladesh in 1971

Which offended a great number of folks highly indoctrinated into Muktijuddher chetona

Which forced a number of ultra liberal folks start  chanting slogan to ban the movie

Which was made by a young female director who happens to be the daughter of a rich man who is a minister of Bangladesh government


WTF ….

…this is the official statement of this blog about the great Meherjann movie debate that is blazing the Bangladesh blogosphere over last few days.




… will be rigged.

AL allowed fair elections in most municipalities because it thought it would win them.  Even after BNP did so well in the initial stages of the municipal elections, AL didn’t rig them because it wanted to show that it can be trusted with free and fair elections. How else will it do away with the caretaker system?

But the mask came off on the last day, when it rigged Noakhali.  AL just couldn’t handle the truth that it was no longer all that popular.  And the same dynamic will come to play tomorrow.  Official results will show that AL wins these seats by a bigger margin than it did in 2008.  Unofficially, it will be 1973 all over again.

AL need not worry about getting rid of the caretaker system.  It has Khairul Haque.

The recently concluded municipal election highlights several points about the current trend of Bangladesh politics and further fuels the debate about possibility of fair elections under a political government. But before going into the messages this election sent and what our democracy can learn form this election, let get a short overview of the results and other political issues relevant to this election.

1. In a snapshot, the overall results show a near equal number of victorious candidates from ruling Awami League (AL) and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP). If one adds pended Cox’s bazaar, BrahmanBaria municipals in BNP column, Tangail to AL, the margin might go in BNP’s side. Then hypothetically if one adds 10 plus Stolen Noakhali/ Feni/ Barisal councils to BNP, the gap widens further in BNP’s favor.

2. This election gives a good sampling of Bangladesh. This election was neither one of the major city Corporation election nor totally rural Union Porishod election. This election samples the population where urban folks come in contact with rural Bangladesh. These are small towns of Bangladesh where villagers travel on almost daily basis to sell their produce or do necessary purchases. These are the perfect mixing bowl of urban and rural Bangladesh. Unlike Dhaka where major concern would be traffic or load shedding or the remote village, where people concerns mostly about price of seeds, fertilizer etc. — these city council election covers both sort of perspective.

While stock market plunges in record setting numbers daily, prime Minister’s adviser on Financial affairs declares that he can’t care less about the investors in Stock Market.

Celebrated Photojournalist, activist and founder of Drik, Shahidul Alam speaks about the recent sensational photo of Felani, shot by Indian security Forces and overall Indo-Bangladesh relationship.

BNP is back.  Even Zafar Sobhan or Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury admits it.  I am hopeful even Mozammel Babu won’t deny it. 

It didn’t need to be this way.  AL tried everything to derail BNP.  Throw Begum Zia out of the cantonment house, use SQC as a bait, not to mention the countrywide repression of BNP rank and file.  The idea was to force BNP into an andolon that could be billed as supportive of war criminals and militants, and then let loose the dogs of war Bakshali Lal Ghora.

Zindabad to those people who worked hard to keep BNP on course. 

Zindabad to Khondoker Delwar Hossain.  He is not the right face for the party in this digital age.  But he has kept the radicals and hot heads under control, and constantly counselled Begum Zia on rebuilding the party with those who remained loyal during 1/11.

Zindabad to Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.  Not only is he an articulate person who can present the party aptly in a hostile media environment, over the past year he has been slowly but steadily rebuilding the party from the ground up.

Zindabad to Moudud Ahmed, Shamser Mubin Chowdhury and MK Anwar.  Yes, one has a weasely reputation and the others are boring as test cricket.  But they have been instrumental in BNP avoiding the obvious traps set by AL, and are working towards creating BNP’s future governing platform.

Zindabad to Mahbubuddin Khokon, Shaheeduddin Chowdhury Annie and Jainal Abedin Farooqe — young parliamentarians who will make the front bench when BNP returns to power.

Zindabad to the Zindagoods.

Updated (January 21, 2011): Robert O. Blake Jr., Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs: “The investigation into the Nobel prize-winning Grameen Bank, however, has raised concerns. Secretary Clinton has urged the government to maintain its democratic values and ensure its investigation is impartial and balanced.” Please compare this with government press release regarding Hillary’s call.

Dr. Yunus and Hillary Clinton

Photo: Daily Star

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday. Since the only press release regarding this call has come from the Prime Minister’s Office, they understandably did not mention it, but Hillary was calling with only one message: “Don’t mess with Dr. Yunus.”

The phone call was not an isolated event. US Ambassador James Moriarty had also delivered the same message a few days ago. And just in time. The Government has annouced that it has formed a committee to investigate Grameen. It is headed by DU’s Prof. Monowar Uddin Ahmed, who has had a famously difficult relationship with Dr. Yunus. As everyone knows, once a committee is formed, you’re one step away from the death squads.

As an additional channel of attack, the Government has also started harassing Dr. Yunus through the courts. Obviously, the good doctor thought that op-eds in the New York Times are well and good, but Secretary Clinton speaks a language that our Premiere understands clearly. And with his first court appearance due Januarry 18, clearly the phone call was timed with some thought.

I have mixed feelings about this. I don’t like the government hounding Dr. Yunus. However, I also don’t like foreigners telling our Prime Minister what she should or shouldn’t do. Hasina took office with incredible support from Western governments; why she would choose to start a vendetta with the one person in Bangladesh with even better foreign support than herself is still beyond me.

Awami League 22

BNP 15

Rebel and Independent : 12



1. This time the result has less surprise factor.

2. Out of 19 local Governments in Barisal, only 1 went to BNP, rest went to Awami League. And this brings the most interesting part of this discussion.  Barisal proper has never voted for Awami League in Independent Bangladesh. Even in 2008 election, while two Barisal Sadar seats went to BNP, rest two went to JP. AL won two seats in periphery remote Island districts. Even during last lcal government election most of Barisal went to BNP. This time, people wanted a change. Few factors worked. In Bangladesh, anti-incumbency will always be a very powerful factor. Also people in mariginal areas think that a government supporting candidate may do something for the locality.

3. Compared to Barisal Khulna however did not show much anti incumbency and all other 14 sats BNP won are from Khulna Division.  Only in two major cities BNP won last election– they were Barisal Sadar ( Majibur Rahman Sarwar) and Khulna Sadar ( Najrul Islam manju).

4. More or less this is how the election result was expected. Rangpur was abig surprise. This time Barisal came as a big surprise and Khulna compensated and overall expected 30-19  breakdown is maintained.

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