Suranjit-Gate & Religion: the elephant in the room
UPDATE: PMO clarifies that Sengupta will remain as Minister.
Suranjit’s power base is less than the other scandal-hit people. A Hindu MP is a super-minority in Bangladesh. Discuss.
Purboposhchim wrote after my comment:
I think we can all admit that Bangladesh is a hostile place for Hindus. No doubts about that. But it’s also a hostile place for the little people – the kind who are being evicted from Karail for not being able to go to court while the big people are happily building all over the lake. So what happens when one of the big people stealing is a Hindu person? Well, how do you feel about Trayvon Martin’s killer being a White Hispanic? Is he being indicted because he killed a teenager or because he’s a Hispanic in the deep South? Dui subalterner jhogray jokhon Captain shaheb dhukey tokhon dui joner voice dubey jay ar shudhu Captain shaheber gola shuna jay.
বাঘে ধরলে বাঘে ছাড়ে, কিন্তু শেখ হাসিনা ধরলে কাউরে ছাড়েন না
I don’t think SSG is in any more trouble because of his religion. Nor do I think that his resignation, if it happens, will be because ‘as a Hindu he has no godfather’. The guy won every election he contested between 1970 and 2008. He is a godfather in his area. What I think the (potential) communal fallout here is not about SSG. Rather, the real worry is what this might mean for the ordinary Hindus. Here is the communalism: in far-too-many places (and not just in Aamar Desh or Naya Diganta), SSG is referred to as Babu Suranjit Sengupta. Why the Babu? When Abul Hossain or Nazmul Huda were discussed, did anyone say Janab Abul Hossain or Janab Nazmul Huda? When BNP health minister Dr Mosharraf was accused of corruption, did anyone say Moulvi Mosharraf? (in the old days, moulvi was how ‘learned’ people were addressed, and Mosharraf had a phd, so he must have been a learned person). Whenever people say Babu Suranjit, they remind everyone “this corrupt guy is Hindu”. That doesn’t matter for SSG himself. But it matters for the ordinary Hindu guy in Jessore or Barisal. It perpetuates the distrust and the notion that “ei shala malaoon ra amader taka churi koira oi parey pathay”. That’s the potential communal angle.
Mainstream media went after abul hossain as well, but not against faruq khan or towfiq elahi chowdhury. And observed some time ago that during the BNP era, some ministers were ‘simply evil’, but others were never accused of anything. It may be a sign of changing heart. but why SSG and not anyone related to energy sector? In general, motiur rahman and mahfuz anam ‘go easy’ on ex-lefts. Mannan bhuiyan was LGRD minister. Much of petty corruption / patronage / doliokoron at the local level happens through this ministry. If hawa bhaban was guilty of all those crimes, then mannan bhuiyan was complicit in them. And yet, he was never implicated in any scandal. How come? Last year, PA-DS tried to cover up nahid-menon’s disgraceful inaction during the VNC scandal. I would have expected MA-MR to give SSG the same ‘courtesy’.
Exhibit 1: Amader Shomoy
Suranjit has other weaknesses:
SSG joined AL in only 1996. He shouldn’t be bracketed with razzaq-amu-tofail, who have a very different dynamic with hasina. Razzaq-tofail were half of the original chaar neta (moni-seraj being the other half). Amu was the party’s muscle man in the post-75 lean years. Compared with them, suranjit is really ‘chunoputi’. SSG publicly praised zia in the early 90s, wasn’t visible in the CTG andolon, and was heavily courted by BNP.
Daily Star: None resigned voluntarily.
[Note: The DS article is, at least on one count, mistaken. Zahiruddin Khan was never asked to resign. The fertilizer crisis was blamed on Majedul Huq, then Agriculture Minister. Zahiruddin Khan, one of the few gentlemen to have graced BD politics, resigned absolutely voluntarily; his resignation, in fact, caught people by surprise.]