“There is no mystery in the large crowd at the funeral. Golam Azam was an infirm old man. The party knew that this was going to happen, and prepared for it. For a well-organised party like Jamaat, how difficult is it to pull off a crowd if you have months (if not years) to prepare for?”
Why did Jamaat suddenly go from Shivnarain Chanderpaul to Shahid Afridi?
That’s what ADBlogger5 asked me a few weeks ago, when Jamaat cadres started sporadic street fights with police across the country. These fights are a big departure from Jamaat’s political tactics, not just of recent years, but over the four decades since the Liberation War. And now, Bangladesh is witnessing the first hartal called solely by Jamaat.
So, what exactly is going on here?
It started as a carefree walk through New York’s Times Square to unwind after a long day. Then, far off in the background, I thought I heard sounds I hadn’t heard for years and not on this side of the planet. The pulsing of slogans, and high-pitched oratory that once seemed so impressive even if one disagreed, but which now represents sclerosis, fatigue and frustration. But, that is back “home”, not here in New York, surrounded by skyscrapers and tourists.
For the past decade or so, the establishment — susheel types, foreign murubbis, khaki, old and new money — in Bangladesh had a clear view about the two political parties: while they are both bad, Awami League can be at least tolerated, BNP on the other hand is pure evil. Read a typical piece by Zafar Sobhan or Sohrab Hossain to see what I mean.
When asked about what’s the minimum BNP needs to do to become tolerable, the establishment types say ‘dump the razakar/mollah/jongis’.