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Current Affairs

March 12, 2012

Shakhawat Liton

Fallen in Love with Power!
In the final moments of 2012, US President Wilson remains in Washington DC to address the nation one last time. With the vice- president dead and the speaker of the House missing, Anheuser becomes the acting commander-in-chief. Having fallen in love with US citizens, President Wilson refuses to leave Washington DC and is ready to accept the common fate. He is later killed by a mega-tsunami that sends the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy crashing into the White House.

The American science fiction disaster film 2012 depicts how the world would be destroyed in the year of 2012. The movie, released in November 2009, was a huge success. However, the world has not been destroyed. Neither have any scientists nor any religious leaders seen any such possibility. For now, we have nothing to fear.

Khaleda Zia, Photo: Star File

But many people in Bangladesh are gripped by panic. They now fear a possible political tsunami in the coming days ahead of the next parliamentary election to be held in 2014. To be more specific, many people right now are worried about the 'March toward Dhaka' on March 12, 2012. What might happen on that day in the capital? For sure, it will not be a doomsday like the final moments of the Hollywood movie 2012 or a repeat of Arab Spring in Bangladesh.

Obviously, the script writers of the 'March toward Dhaka' programme do not expect the final moments of the film 2012 as they dream of assuming power by toppling the current regime. So, they in no way expect a doomsday on March 12. They, however, may dream of an Arab Spring in Bangladesh against the Awami League-led government. Are there much signs of Arab Spring here? The opposition leaders themselves know the answer. The long autocratic regimes in some countries—Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen—were ousted in the wake of people's upsurge. People were the driving force of the revolution in those countries. They came out of homes spontaneously, took to the streets and demonstrated against the dictators in their beloved countries.

In Bangladesh, the opposition leaders have been urging people to come out of homes and take to the streets to demonstrate against the present regime and restore the caretaker government.

Will people respond to their call? Chances are very slim right now. Mass people are busy trying to survive in the face of spiraling living cost. Many people have already revised their monthly budget and also diet chart to run the family on their limited income. So, they may not find any reason to keep confidence in the BNP-led opposition parties right now. Moreover, people have experienced the BNP-led alliance's rule in the past. Why should they believe the BNP now if it promises to run the country properly if voted to power again?

People aware of the country's political culture know very well that the BNP-led opposition parties have been agitating for restoration of the caretaker government only to return to power. They are certain that the parliamentary elections without the caretaker government system will not be free and fair. Polls under the partisan government will not allow the opposition parties to win the battle of ballots. This is why the restoration of the caretaker system is now their prime agenda. They seem to have forgotten that there are some other issues related to public interests, which need to be addressed. They would have highlighted the other issues and talked on behalf of people, had they fallen in love with people. But they have fallen in love with power. And they are ready to do anything for the sake of their love.

It is difficult to find any fundamental difference between the BNP-led opposition parties and its rival camp ruling Awami League-led grand alliance. The AL has also fallen in love with power. And its political strategy is transparent and visible. It wants to retain in power by defeating the political rivals through oppression, not through any programmes dedicated to people's welfare. The AL-led government has already abolished the caretaker government system, clearing the way for staying in power when the next parliamentary election is held. And for this, the AL is almost desperate to foil the opposition's agitation for restoration of the caretaker government. As such, it is not hesitating to use the police force against the opposition men.

Do They Know When to Stop?
The way things are moving, it is almost certain that the opposition's 'March toward Dhaka' programme on March 12 will generate much heat in the country's politics. The way the leaders of AL and BNP are speaking, it seems they have engaged in a war. Both the camps are ready to do everything for retaining or capturing power.

The BNP-led opposition parties are taking all out preparation to make the March 12 programme a success. They have planned a big showdown in the capital to demonstrate their strength.

In turn, the ruling AL have decided to enforce political programmes throughout March. This means the ruling party men will take to the streets to counter their political rivals. The government may also use police force to prevent the opposition parties from holding the rally in the capital, by bringing their men from different parts of the country. It may even impose a ban on all rallies in the capital on March 12 to foil the opposition's agitation programne as it did during the January 29 mass rally in the capital. Centering the mass rally at that time, five people were killed in two days—January 29 and January 30—when police fired on the opposition men.

The opposition parties' leaders have also threatened to wage tough agitation against the government if the programme is foiled and obstructed.

Given past records and the prevailing situation, many people now fear that politics may take a violent turn centering the March 12 agitation programme. Both parties seem to believe that “All is fair in love and war,” and they want to win. If violence ensues, it will further deteriorate the political atmosphere of the country.

In the past, the country's economy and mass people had to bear the brunt of their political wars. Even the country's politicians had to suffer during the last state of emergency regime between 2007 and 2008.

Did our politicians forget their past records? Do they have such short memories? Of course not; their memories are very sharp. The way they speak and blast political opponents demonstrate their brilliance. The questions are–are they following any rules to play the game? Do they know when to stop playing the game?

We, the people of Bangladesh, expect good sense to prevail in both the ruling and opposition camps. We hope that March 12 of 2012 will not trigger any untoward incident in the country's political landscape and that they will talk to each other to find a solution to the growing crisis. And they will learn how to fall in love with people, abandoning their love of power.

They should also consider the reasons why people hate politicians. People want to love their representatives, not hate them.

The writer is Senior Reporter, The Daily Star.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2012