While we discuss Bangladesh politics- India comes up automatically. Regional hegemony, friendship and bitterness, mutual interest, influence over Bangladesh’s internal politics- hosts of many other issues make India an important and inseparable factor in Bangladesh.
Besides, due to the, cultural commonness, geographical proximity and historical relationship between the nations- it is almost impossible to strikeout the equation of Bangladesh politics without calculating the India factor. Hence, as a common Bangladeshi citizen, it becomes a difficult yet interesting case study to draw a comparative analysis of India and Bangladesh politics and political culture, to deduce the discourse for a desired solution of Bangladesh’s political crisis.
In India, BJP rose as a nemesis to the Congress Party. Congress capitalised the attachment of Gandhi and Nehru to their party and turned them into icon of their party by using their personality cults. After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, congress did the same- they built installations, used government fund to run youth employment project etc, after his name. On the contrary, rather than focusing on any personality cults- BJP capitalised on an Ideology and kept on crawling slowly for quite sometimes. Though, after the Indira Gandhi era and congresses’s debacle over the arms scam and Babri Masjid, there came a time of political diversity in Indian politics- the power centre came back to congress’s hand within a short period, Bhartia Janta Dal made some impression with bleak efforts but weak coalitions made them weaker in deciding the political course of India. In fact, in those days- India seemed to have been missing a leader with a charishmatic public face. From 1991 to 2004, India had so many prime ministers representing various partiers and coalitions, but none seemed have made a long lasting impression in the social and political arena of India.
Before the rise of Modi, in fact, there was no potent political entity in India that could challenge the monolithic congress party in Indian politics. However, BJP’s journey to the political potency relied mostly on communal and sectarian politics. BJP kept challenging the credo of secularism in the Indian constitution and got heavy back up from religious and extreme right organisations like Viswa Hindu Parishad, RSS, Sangh Parivar, hindu Mahasava etc. These organisations with their communal and religious agenda worked as the spokesman of BJP and helped creating a huge fan base among the general mass of India. During this period, BJP lead Gujrat emerged as a model of development and posterity within India. Narendra Modi- a peculiar combination of religious extremism and political dynamism, came into the focus of Pan-Indian political theatre. Moreover, the long tenure of Congress and UPA alliance in the power might have created a sense of monotony in terms of political dynamism in the mass psychology. Despite the coining of the ‘Shining India’, UPA and Congress failed retaining the confidence of the people with aged, indifferent and apparently nonchalant Manmohan Singh in the helm of the affairs and ‘Italian’ Sonia Gandhi at the backdrop. Anna Hazare’s civil movement also played a vital role to sensitise the people about the pervasive corruption in the government. People wanted a new face, capable to handling Shining India and guiding it into the elite club of global power and economy. For now, as it looks like- in Modi, India has got what she wanted. We have to leave it on time to decide whether the Modi Mania is a fluke or a Time-worthy thing.
Like congress in India, Awami-league is the biggest political party in Bangladesh. But, unlike congress in India, Awami-league in Bangladesh had to face an iconoclastic politics of it’s opponent. Though BJP emerged as the nemesis of congress, the former did not take a stance to malign the cult figures of the later. In the plethora of political acquisitions, BJP did not even try to encase on maligning Gandhi or Nehru to divert public sentiment. Therefore, Indian politics, so far, did not confined itself in the personal clash or dynastic rivalry. Indian politics never lacked political negotiations, consent and agreement among the political rivals. On the other hand, just after the inception, Bangladesh experienced a scathingly bitter and counter revolution led by an antithesis, against her struggle for liberation and the father of the nation. It led to huge bloodshed and personal vilification campaign which in turn led to a political future of mutually-destructive intents amongst the political rivals. With the present setup of parties and leadership- it appears to be an inextricable quagmire of the people of this country.
Our country and the nation do not deserve such a plight! Issues like development, economic growth, good governance are being submerged in the conundrum of the fight of two major belligerents. Along, we are wasting away- the invaluable time. The aspirations of our generation, our spirit, capability- everything being atrophied. Almost the whole nation is aligned with the ideology and stands of two major camps. We have mostly three sorts of people here- The beneficiaries of political parties, the ones driven by the core values and ideologies of the political camps, and the ones, who has no choice but to stick with the “Better of Two Evils” as per their own scales of measurement. The third group holds the majority. Thou they are the majority and are the true voice of the people- they are unheard and uncared for! This unheard people have aspirations which are otherwise listed in the manifestos of the political parties. But, due to the personal ego, clash and mutually-destructive rivalry between the political parties- these aspirations get no priority, whatsoever. Nothing but the hatred and animosity- are the constant outcomes of our national politics.
In Indian politics, though the bitterness amongst the rivals are not so intense- traditionally, the mass possesses a negative idea about the politicians. Capitalising on this negative idea of the mass, Aam Admi Party (AAP) has come to scene. Today, the result of Delhi provincial assembly election is due to be declared. The exit pole has already portrayed a landslide victory of AAP defeating Modi-fied BJP! In fact, BJP seems to have overused the Modi card for too long and a Megalomaniac Modi is no more the Unique Sales Proposition to the voters of Delhi. They want delivery and o far, BJP has not delivered as mush it promised during the campaign of the national election last year. The central politics has always an important role to shape the provincial or state politics. Delhi is no less but more moved by this fact. On the other hand, despite the resignation in the midway, people of Delhi has decided to give Arvind Kejarwal one more chance. They are convinced with the honestly of his effort and the resilience of his uncompromising stand against corruption and communalism. Moreover, AAP has brought forward faces who are callow in the politics but hold true representation of the society. During the last Bidhansava election, AAP gave ticket to an ex army private from Delhi Cantt constituency who finally made it to the assembly! AAP is rallied by the young generation and the lower class people of the society- who constitute the majority of the voter! I am sure, if Kejarwal can deliver well, in the next national election, Kejarwal and his AAP will be a factor that will shake the national Juggernauts.
Is it possible for us to have such a change in our country? I want our minds to be decolonized and to redefine our nuances. I want the plutocracy and the oligarchy to end! May we have a new political party that will represent the people from all spheres and classes of the society? Garments worker, aspiring middle class, professionals, educated persons from the rural areas- everybody. A party that will hold the core values and spirit of 1971 and will work to establish a society free of exploitations. It must put highest importance on development, employment, good governance, answerability and a people-facing administration. One, that must take a Zero Tolerance stance against communal politics and fundamentalism! A party that will promise actions against corruptions and act to ensure fair chances for all. A party that will promise us a state where our own people will not be the victim of political violence of political parties or of the extrajudicial killings of the law-enforces! I don’t want us to be held anymore hostage by our past and held back. I don’t want us to be restricted anymore in the “Better of Two Evils” theory! I don’t want ourselves to be bound by our ideologies and aspirations to be addressed by only one party and thereby, get our spirit and emotion played, as political pawns in their hand! I want them to try the war criminals without any ifs or buts!”
Aminul Sarwar is a retired government employee and now an entreprenuer.