People Power


Responding to the strike that a tiresome group of people called for no reason, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asks: who is better patriot and protector of the country’s interests than me?

Who indeed? Surely none. Yet, we offer up a few answers.

We could go on and on. Hasina also revealed that her party lost the 2001 election despite getting more votes because of their strident guardianship of our national intersts. And not because they only got 62 out of 300 seats.

A leader and an educator. Much like Marcus Aurelius.

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This is not intended to be an anniversary piece on the events those took place in Bangladesh on 11 January 2007. This is why it has not been posted on the anniversary day. This is intended to be an obituary of ‘thing’ called 1/11. And unfortunately this obituary does not have much good to say about 1/11.

As it is clear from the two lines written above, 1/11, as a political-national event has not been clearly defined yet. There has not been any consensus in what to call the events of 11 January 2007 or the ‘thing’ called 1/11. It was definitely not a popular mass uprising as the nation has experienced in 1969 or in 1990. It could be an offshoot of a failed or ineffective violent street agitation. Is it a military coup? May be it was a military coup. But then it would be the first of its kind in this planet with undisguised sponsorship of the United Nations and not so tacit instigation of the western diplomats as well as diplomats from a neighboring country. And it would be those new kinds of relatively soft military coups, as being seen in Thailand, Pakistan etc. In this kind of coup, some senior military leadership work in close liaison with business community, civil society leaders and the media to bring in a government that will be more sympathetic towards the needs of the urban, educated citizenry. 1/11 may indeed be an attempt in that route. Especially initial minus-two formula, nation building speeches by the army chief, en-masse persecution of the politicians etc were copycat events of a typical military-civil society takeover.

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I can make an easy assumption here. If one does a quick poll on how many people knew of film star Manna, I am pretty sure, 90% would have answered they never heard of Manna. And I am pretty sure the numbers would have been respectively 99% and 100% negative if the questions were how many saw a Manna film and how many of them were Manna’s fans.

On February 17, Dhaka film star Manna died of heart attack. For me, I heard of Manna’s name as a Dhakaiya film actor but never saw any of his movies. (Even If I did, would I confess it in this forum? Mere knowing of Manna, forget about watching his film or becoming his movie, is a blatant sign of cultural backwardness and social downwardness among the members of my class).

When I was watching TV footage of the crowd at United Hospital where Manna died, I thought, OMG, Manna must have been a popular hero. It was a surprise. But that surprise was nothing compared to what I saw the following day, again in TV news footage. Tens of thousands men, young and old, from all over the country, gathered in front of FDC (Dhaka version of Hollywood Film Studios); only to have a glance at Manna for the last moment. Failing to enter FDC campus, those gathered got involved in a pitched battle with the police. E-Bangladesh posted a story on this event. The body was supposed to be taken to Shahid Minar for public viewing. Another mass, tens of thousands strong, also gathered there. And more people were thronging along the way from FDC to Shahid Minar. The clash between police and the mourners got ugly. Fearing people power, the military government forced the FDC organizers to cancel the Shahid Minar viewing.

The spontaneous gathering of people was remarkable. Dhaka has not seen such spontaneous gathering in many years. Even during the peak days of recent anti government movement, all the organized gatherings were not as big.

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The current regims dirty politicking with BNP is scandalous. I wrote many months ago that the worst time of BNP was over. It is still true. The men who helped BNP come out of the worst time of its history, is Khondokar Delwar Hossain and Mr Rizvi Ahmed.

Indian cricket fans loving call cricketer Rahul Dravid as “The Wall”, apparently for his stubborn steady defiance of all kinds menacing bowling attacks. Khondokar Delwar Hossain is the ‘wall’ of present day Bangladesh politics. He has faced and is still facing an unbelievable level of torture, in the form of physical torture on his son, termination of his physician daughter’s job, almost nonstop telephone call, threats directed at him from various quarters.  Despite all these, Mr. Delwar remained defiant and held the fort in a steadfast manner. On the face of his boldness the whole hijacking plan of BNP by the turncoats like Mannan, Hafiz, Saifur, Mofazzal, ZA Khan, Jahir Swapon, Shakhawat Bokul etc faltered. I feel sorry for Goyeshwar Roy, Md Shahjahan etc. They tried but could not help resisting the temptations of the powerful military government long enough. They betrayed their party and their workers/supporters. And yet, they failed miserably in front of the wall. And now as the line is drawn, the betrayers have been identified, the job in BNP gets clearer. The Wall has done his job. If they take him out now, I am pretty sure one of the daughter-in-laws of Khaleda Zia will come and hold the mantle (You are darn right; I am indeed promoting dynastic steps here. If that is needed to keep the fledgling and badly bruised free politics of Bangladesh alive, so be it.

The crocodile tears of some major media outlet are very funny. These same newspapers will do anything to see BNP vanish from this planet. They have never hidden this agenda. And now suddenly these evil wishers of BNP suddenly became the well wishers and very concerned about the unification of BNP. Some got angered at Khondokar Delwar Hossain for his non-cooperation in this ‘unification’ process. Isn’t it strange that these media outlets will become so concerned about BNP’s unification? Will anyone believe that this media do want a stronger BNP? Isn’t this media support of the so called unification clarifies what really is intended in the name of unification?  And to be fair and truthful, whatever these media, or the election commissioners or Amnesty’s Irene Khan say, in reality there is no fraction in BNP. There are a bunch of turncoat leaders who are engaged in a failed attempt to hijack the party on behalf of the military government. The party, its activists, the grassroots and the vast support base are united. Despite what chief Election Commissioner says about better current state of Awami League, I feel this is in no better shape. While Khondokar Delwar prevented the downfall like a wall, Motia Chowdhury fought a pitched battle but apparently could not prevent the hijack of the party by the pro military RATS fraction. The acting president Zillur Rahman occasionally fumbles something to the press and makes statements like “Allah will give justice to Hasina” etc but always shy away from demanding her immediate release. It is strange that while Sheikh Hasina herself calls for an early election, AL acting president, flanked by either Amu or Tofael or Rajjak, is busier showing his complete submission to the roadmap of the election commission. If you scan recent press reports in Bangladesh, you will see BNP, its leadership and student wings demanded release of Sheikh Hasina more frequently and vigorously than AL did.    But it is imperative to say that whatever efficiently the RATS have hijacked the party, their fate is very tightly tied with the group led by Mannan Bhuiyan. If Mannan gong fails to take over BNP (It now seems that they have failed), the future of RATS becomes very uncertain. An election with RATS dominated AL (With Hasina in jail) and a boycott by BNP will be worse than the projected Jan 22 election. 1/11 came into being only to prevent that sort of election.

In the end, it is the wall who, by blocking the hijack of his party, is in fact preventing the hijack of our democracy and next five years of our governance by a very powerful quarter comprised of military Generals, newspaper editors and Foreign diplomats.  The strength of the Wall is not only the man Delwar Hossain, but hundreds of thousands of passionate grassroots activists of Awami League and BNP.

The future is not as bleak as it may seem now.

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Courtesy: Bohurupi

This is how ex BNP leader, currently a founding member of Moeen U’s party, Le Ge Ma Ra ( Lt Gen Mahbubur Rahman) was given jutapeta ( Shoe treatment) by BNP grass roots today.

UPDATE: Here is E-Bangladesh topless Photo and story of Le Ge Ma Ra.

The following interesting thing happened today at Zia’s mausoleum:
1. CTG totally shunned 7th November. ( This is not a problem if they did not believe in 7th Nov.). But the problem is in the fact that, those who are running the government are all believers of 7th November change. But they are trying to wear a facade of center-left to be able to use Awami league to reach their goal.

2. BNP ( Moeen U fraction) leaders Saifur and Hafiz along with a dozen leaders visited Zia mausoleum under heavy RAB/police escort and left the scene ASAP. Still Le Ge Ma Ra got a good shoe beating on his way out. After telecasting this beting scene once, most channels blacked it out in their 7 PM news.

3. When the real BNP came with RA Gani and Hannan Shah, the police swiftly changed their job description. From protections of leaders, they resorted to crowd control when thousands of activists followed these leaders inside the mausoleum