Dhaka, Bangladesh
Updating sociopolitical order urgent

Updating sociopolitical order urgent

Intellectuals call it national reconciliation, cite weird happenings as bellwether for change

News Special Citing some weird happenings almost all around, despite some drastic action, some thinkers now suggest a re-jig of Bangladesh's sociopolitical structure. A national reconciliation they stress for such updating of basic social contract. The fundamentals for this renaissance must be the ethos of the independence war in the light of prevailing domestic and geopolitical realities, as they opine and as the ruling Awami League and its coalition partners also think. A solution along this line, they admit, looks premature by the looks of political tensions between the two main parties, but not totally an impractical proposition. A move to that end is not altogether utopian as BNP also claims to be a champion of independence with many freedom fighters in the party, including its slain founder. And its latest stance, apparently in a corrective gesture, may make things a bit easier. A few landmark events in fractious politics nudged common wisdom. Analysts list a surprise emergence of a coalition styled Jatiya Oikya Front under its figurehead, Dr Kamal Hossain, an avowed adherent of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, through cobbling the BNP and some other AL breakaways and virtually de-linking BNP from its main conglomerate, namely, 20-party alliance, Dr Kamal pulling the BNP to dialogue with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and to the December-30 election with all their demands kept in abeyance and BNP chief and ex-PM Khaleda Zia in jail as all the impossible made possible. It all stands in stark contrast to what had happened centering round the January 5, 2014 polls. The then leader of the opposition, Khaleda Zia, had vituperatively turned down PM Sheikh Hasina's invitation for talk and the BNP and its 20-party alliance had waged a poll-boycott movement that had witnessed terrible incidents of arson and deaths. Even an offer of cabinet seats in a proposed election-time government was spurned back then. A diametrically different ambiance was seen ahead of the December 30, 2018 general election, though it was upset by the nature of election and its outcome. A fresh boycott of the parliament that came into being was seen, as the opposition BNP-JOF bloc was reduced to eight seats. Again a mesmerizing play was discernible. Dr Kamal apparently put in play his magic wand-through subtle and resilient forbearance of some heckling at times. His two Gano Forum MPs and five of six of BNP's finally joined parliament amid lots of drama and suspense. BNP secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir didn't take oath and lost his seat 'in greater interest'. Alongside Dr Kamal, he also played a pivotal role in all the episodes, in absence of party chairperson Khaleda and acting chairperson Tarique Rahman. A unique turn of events is all this by some analysts' judgment. They think it should be utilized in greater national interest to secure stable society for achieving the greater goals like ultimate graduation of the nation from LDC and a unanimous and happy celebration of the birth centenary of the independence leader next year. "It's for Awami League to take the lead. It's the oldest party and has a long-lasting organizational structure and strength. BNP has mass support but not well-built organization," said Prof AK Fazlul Haque, a social thinker. Some other incumbent and former Dhaka University teachers, including Prof Anwar Hossain and Mesbah Kamal, endorse such view. And all of them point out 'erosion of values and institutions' because of restive political situation and sociopolitical fissures. Some of the political analysts think that, despite the standoff between the two blocs in national politics, a 'national reconciliation' is possible. "If Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman could unite all, even including inimical forces, in 1971, his daughter Sheikh Hasina would certainly be able to do it now," said many a pacifist, including Major (rtd) Zillur Rahman, introduced at talk shows as a security analyst and columnist. All of them point at unrest and troubles in some Asian countries and destruction of civilizations in the Middle East and in African countries for divisions of various kinds. Fakhral speaks of political changes in keeping with the fast-changing geopolitical traits. And Dr Kamal is vocal about rebuilding the now-impaired national unity of 1971. "People are united-leaders are divided," he says on every occasion. And he brought leaders together at dialogue, despite all criticisms of his enigmatic role sometimes.

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