JOHN F. KENNEDY didn't have an all size-fit quote for different kinds of victories or defeats. So he said pointedly and in a worldly-wise way: “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”
Revolutionist Che Guevara almost said the same thing about guerrilla war. What is a confidence builder among unsure people is conquering a territory, howsoever tiny, and holding it up as a mark of success conveying a sense that it could be replicated. So, winning a battle is important although the war may not have been won.
The kind of victory that AL has recently landed up with as a matter of technicality rather than of substance, may not have won it a thousand fathers but enough of cheery messages from important countries to go on with. It may have won a battle, will it or can it win the war?
By the look of things, the AL considers its re-induction in power a redefining and game-changing moment. Otherwise, how could the AL be so sure about the sustainability of a poorly mandated government so as to stretch its luck to 2021, a cutoff mark for the country to be a middle income one. I could only quote Rabindranath Tagore to explain this feat of overconfidence: “What people come to expect, they start believing in it.”
A combination of factors has favoured the AL's version of self-powered politics: The party may be a better choice in the eye of the world than the BNP if the prospects of religious extremism, radicalism and Talibanisation are to be knocked out of the radar screen where these keep peeping and bleeping. This is a dangerous world we are living in where money and lethal materials pass hands at the drop of a hat of godfathers and mentors of hara-kiri operatives. Today it is burning, tomorrow it can be suicide bombing, were we to drop our guard.
That is why the pendulum has gradually swerved towards the AL in the face of mounting brutality and violence with which Jamaat-Shibir elements spearheaded BNP's countrywide blockades and hartals that turned peaceful hamlets and city corners into killing fields. So audacious Jamaat has become that it allegedly sent out letters to Hindu families in Satkhira threatening them to leave Bangladesh within a certain time limit.
Although the BNP would not admit the boycott of the January 5 election as a defeat, yet that the party is in a beleaguered, and somewhat orphaned, state will not be contested even by its best well-wishers. On the sidelines, its conversion into a 19-party alliance with the inclusion of JP (Zafar), at best passed off as a non-event with a squeamish suggestion of a spent force in a quixotic handholding with a major party possibly reduced to facing an existential challenge.
If the BNP thinks that it can whip up a street movement to unseat the new government it considers illegitimate, it had better abandon the idea. Even with a live issue centering around the 15th Amendment and restoration of caretaker system it failed to ramp up an agitation mostly because it settled for violent rather than constitutional means. What is more to the point, the government ensconced in an opposition-less parliament and left with unbridled executive power, would only be rationing space to the BNP for any expression of dissent as deemed fit by the power that be.
As if BNP's predicament was not bad enough already, a former judge who acquitted BNP senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman in a money laundering case in November left the country for Malaysia 53 days after delivering the judgment. The ACC is currently investigating 'discrepancies' in the wealth statement of the judge who retired after giving the acquittal verdict for Tarique Rahman.
May be the upcoming upazila elections will be a breather for the BNP. If the party can claim significant number of seats of chairman, vice-chairman and member of the upazila parishads it could hold this up as a measure of its popularity.
BNP has a sizeable vote bank with right-of-centre ideological moorings based on a nationalist mantra. To my mind, liberation and nationalism are such attained and settled facts through struggle and sacrifice that they cannot be the staple of any political party at the expense of another. Take into account the fact that 60% of the population comprising youth are completely disenchanted with distortion of history for political expediency and want war crimes trial brought to its logical conclusion. A new genre of leadership concerned with the present and the future will have to evolve if the country has to develop to its full potential.
The AL in such a context, and particularly in view of the initiative being solely in its hands, may have a serious rethink on engaging BNP in an effective dialogue to reach out to each other by way of finding a way forward to be holding a credible and participative election.
The writer is Associate Editor, The Daily Star.