The Alal-Dulal sorority likes Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. Not just because he namechecked us. You know how you hear, ‘good people’ don’t come to politics in our country? Well, Mirza Fakhrul is a living counterexample.
This guy came to politics the hard way. He studied economics in Dhaka University, and was involved in progressive politics in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He could have chosen a cushy career in academia or civil service. Instead, he chose politics. He served as an assistant to a senior BNP leader in the late 1970s. His father was a minister in the Ershad regime, and he could have made a lot of money and bought his nomination through crores of taka as so many others do. But instead, he ran for Thakurgaon municipality chairmanship.
Think about that for minute. A brilliant DU student and a son of a minister, who could have been an academic-bureaucrat-businessman, moved to an ojo-paraga like Thakurgaon, and worked his way up BNP rank-and-file to become its current de facto number 2. And he did all this while remaining personally honest — there is no corruption charge against him.
An educated, cultured man, one who cares about what the next generation thinks, someone who is trying make BNP into a more tolerant party — what’s there not to like?
So we like Mirza Fakhrul. And we can see why Abdul Ghaffar Chowdhury doesn’t like him. Someone like him in BNP high command doesn’t accord with Ghaffar Chowdhury’s partisan mind, so he ridicules the BNP leader as ‘gorjon shing’.
Of course, Ghaffar Chowdhury is wrong. Mirza doesn’t actually talk as much his Awami counterparts from Jalil to Hanif. And he has actually been more effective than most secretary generals of either party in rejuvenating the grass root party organisation. If BNP wins the next election, Mirza’s contribution will be enormous.
The thing is, Mirza isn’t the first ‘good man’ in BNP.
Think about his ideological fellow traveller Mannan Bhuiyan — a valiant freedom fighter, grass roots leftist leader, rising through BNP rank-and-file, holding the pro-71 flag steady when BNP started hobnobbing with Jamaat, incurring the hatred of razakar Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury. All in all, most would have said Mannan Bhuiyan was a good man in BNP. Until 2007 that is, when he showed up in Gen Moeen’s side.
Or how about Kazi Zafar? Legendary student and youth leader (whose followers included both Mannan and Mirza), education minister under Zia, unquestionably a ‘good man’ in the late 1970s Bangladesh, until he ended up becoming Ershad’s prime minister, in which capacity he stole crores of taka worth of sugar!
Ah, Mirza is a good man, not corrupt like Kazi Zafar or Mannan Bhuiyan — you say. You’re missing the point.
You see, I don’t think Mannan Bhuiyan or Kazi Zafar turned to the Dark Side because they were corrupt. They underestimated the power of the Dark Side. Particularly its power to tempt.
Look at how Darth Vader tempts Luke.
Join me, Luke, it’s your destiny…. together, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy….
Not, join me and you’ll get
laid with the best chicks of the galaxy the fastest and the coolest spaceship or some other thing appealing to the baser instinct of a teen ager, but the chance to end the war and bring peace! Hell, even Anakin isn’t tempted by greed or lust, but a sense of righteous anger and justice.
That’s how Moeen or Ershad would have enticed Zafar and Mannan. And one can easily imagine a future general approaching Mirza thus: Awami League has destroyed the country, and we had to take over, and now it’s either us or back to Awami chaos, join us and together we can bring order to the country, and end this destructive conflict!
And why will a future general approach Mirza? Rumi says Tofail is making himself available for the job. But Tofail will have no party with him. Mirza has been instrumental in rebuilding BNP. If he can be enticed to join, a future King’s Party will be a very formidable force. Mirza Fakhrul could very well become the next prime minister of Bangladesh.
Mannan Bhuiyan and Kazi Zafar had a far less illustrious comrade — a rather uncharismatic man called Khondoker Delwar Hossain. But this guy knew the power of the Dark Side. Like Obi Wan, he let himself be destroyed, rather than turn to the Dark Side. In the process, he saved BNP and Bangladesh.
Does Mirza Fakhrul know the power of the Dark Side?