October 2011

May be there soon will be a winner in Narayanganj City Corporation election. But question mounts, will she or he really be a winner eventually or will they represent a victory of their backers?

May be NCC citizens are getting an elected rep, they may be the only winner. But without any clout, control, power, money– in Bangladesh context under current system, a mayor is a talpatar shepai — simply a symbolic city father.

But then rest of it is also a lose lose lose lose game.

If Shamim Osman finally pulls through a victory, fair election or not, the demand for CTG will gain momentum. Sheikh Hasina and her ruling part that backed Shamim Osman will lose by winning.

If Osman loses to Ivy, both Awami League and opposition BNP loses big time. Anti CTG rhetoric will gain traction. Tainted civil society ( We all know who they are- new faces Syed Abul Maqsud, Mizanur Rahman Khan, Rubayat Ferdous with Anams and Motiur Rahmans in the background) will again stat jumping with double vigor. Civil society thinks Ivy is their candidate. Selina Hayat Ivy is civil society’s dream candidate. A hardcore Awami League leader, close to Sheikh Hasina currently at odds with another Awami League candidate not in good terms with the civil society leaders. But by no means civil society’s customized candidates are any good for a long-term healthy grassroots based democracy.

If Taimur wins, BNP also loses. Hasina will say, see we lost election to BNP and we can hold fair elections.

This Taimur Alam Khondokar is a pathetic case. If BNP wants to come back, exactly this sort of candidates BNP must shun. This man is running such a lackluster campaign that even Amar Desh is mentioning him in 3rd sequence after Shamim/ Ivy. He cannot talk, cannot make a point. cannot organize get out the vote, cannot gain on anti Awami League incumbency of Shamim, and capitalize on anti Narayanganj incumbency of Ivy. Only thing he is saying very ineffectively is “EVM mani na”, “EC is bad”. Are vhai he is not running against EC. He is running against Ivy and Shamim. And he must have made this a campaign of a referendum to Awami Leagues misrule.
This man is a failure in all way. He was BRTA chairman. That was shame of a record. I don’t know why BNP can’t find a good new fresh face, young blood. There are so many business leader from N Ganj, so many sports stars. Every time I see him walking along Narayanganj roads, he reminds me of the Zombies at the TV series “the Walking Dead”.

BNP must know that if they keep on relying on these Zombies, whatever misrule Awami League exerts on Bangladesh, they have no chance of winning back Bangladesh.

In CCC election an ex Awami Leagues, soft spoken clean image candidate helped BNP regain CCC mayoral seat.

In that context BNP needed Selina Hayat Ivy as their candidate. An honest, smart and bold young woman. In several debates I watched in TV, she was only one who talked some sense and was found to understand what it means to be a city corporation Mayor.

The latest news from Narayanganj tells us that Government decided to ignore Election Commissions request to deploy Armed forces for election eve / day violence prevention.

What will happen in Narayanganj on the election day — no one except the God and Sheikh Hasina can tell. But this blogger can assume that the election day events will be based on which advisor Sheikh Hasina listened to.

It could be a repeat of Bhola, which will be impeccably hidden under the carpet by a submissive friendly media ( In Bhola style). Shamim Osman will just rob the election by forcefully bagging 99% of rural Narayanganj vote.

Or if Mrs. Hasina this time listens to a different advisor, it could be an “apparent” fair election with Sheikh Hasina niece Ivy winning against Shamim Osman. That means civil society is managed for the time being and for next national election, a good example has just been created — ” FOR HOLDING A FREE AND FAIR ELECTION, NEITHER WE NEED A CARE TAKER GOVERNMENT NOR MILITARY DEPLOYMENT”.

Echo chamber: Situation where one purveyor of information will make a claim, which many like-minded people then repeat, overhear, and repeat again (often in an exaggerated or otherwise distorted form) until most people assume that some extreme variation of the story is true.

Mahfuz Anam sometimes treats us to Commentaries, in addition to the editorials he pens every day. On October 21, his Commentary was called: Obviously, our leaders think we are idiots. It reprimanded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for claiming that the Padma Bridge funding had been suspended due to the fault of the past BNP government, and Khaleda Zia for saying that:

Jamaat Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami, Moulana Sayedee, and Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed did not work against our Liberation War in 1971, and that they all had been arrested under false charges.

The problem is, Khaleda Zia never said anything like that. Anam’s own Daily Star reports that what Khaleda Zia actually said was:

At the rally, she questioned the standard of the International Crimes Tribunal. She demanded immediate stop to the trial and release of opposition leaders facing charges of crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.

“We’ve no objection to the trial, but it must be transparent and of international standards. If necessary, foreign lawyers should be allowed to defend the accused, but that is not being done,” she said at Altafunnesa ground, home district of party’s founder late president Ziaur Rahman.

Khaleda alleged that the tribunal has been formed with people from Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee which, according to her, cannot conduct a fair trial.

and the next day:

[Zia] also demanded release of all opposition leaders including those arrested for crimes against humanity. She said Awami League is the real anti-liberation force and that is why actions should be taken against them.

Mentioning the names of arrested Jamaat leaders including Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, she said the government arrested them in false cases. “They [govt] branded Jamaat leaders as anti-liberation force but the real anti-liberation force was Awami League.”

The difference here is extremely obvious. Khaleda Zia is complaining about the process under which the leaders of Jamaat (and Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury) are being tried. Concerns about charges, defense counsel, and composition of the tribunal are all related to the process and working of the Tribunal. She is emphatically not passing judgment on the actual guilt of these people. In fact, she is explicitly saying: “We have no objection to the trial.”

As anyone who has followed David Bergman’s reports from Dhaka knows, questions about the Tribunal’s transparency and judicial standards are widespread, both in our country and outside. However, Anam has misrepresented Khaleda Zia’s comments as something completely different.

And then, the echo chamber jumped into effect. Awami League leaders have only been too happy to follow Anam’s leads and fantasize about locking Zia up. Syed Bardul Ahsan, in his incomparable style, has chimed in. As has Sohrab Hasan.

During BNP’s time, Daily Star played the lead in formenting anger and frustration against the government by publishing any and every story about inflation, price syndicate, corruption, terrorism, and so on. Visibly alarmed by the overwhelming response to Khaleda Zia’s road-marches, it has decided to do the opposite during this regime, and try to tar the ruling party and opposition equally every chance it gets, no matter the gravity of the mistakes committed by each side. And if Anam has to lie in order to make his point, well, when senior media figures lie, it suddenly becomes “spinning.”

But the stench is the same.

Five years ago, Anam wrote another of his Commentaries addressed to the current prime minister. Perhaps he should revisit it. It was titled “A little respect for truth would help.”