THE handmaiden main opposition Jatiya Party's Chairman H.M. Ershad, at a press conference at his Banani office on Saturday, made some critical comments against the proposed budget for the coming financial year. In his view, it is not only highly ambitious, but too much of a dream as well. Many party leaders were present at the press conference. However, his wife Raushan Ershad, who is also leader of the opposition in parliament, was absent. Her absence made journalists curious and they raised question about it. In response, Ershad said: “I am the party [Jatiya Party] chairman. I am expressing the reaction [to the proposed budget] on behalf of her [Raushan].”
But Raushan seems to have not liked Ershad's comments. She arranged a press conference on Tuesday at Parliament's Media Centre and expressed her opinions on the proposed budget, highly appreciating it. She said: “What the party chief said about the proposed budget is his personal opinion only.” This makes it clear that she does not want to make any criticial remark against the proposed budget. The reason is crystal clear. She has been recognised as the leader of the opposition with the status of a minister with the blessing of the government. It was a reward for her performance. She had foiled Ershad's move to bring JP out from the one-sided and voter less January 5 parliamentary election.
Now, in return, followers of Ershad may term Raushan's views as her personal opinions too. This shows the main opposition is facing opposition within itself, let alone opposing the government's wrong policies. The situation clearly exposes once again the fragile state of JP and its inability to perform as a shadow cabinet to hold the government accountable to the House.
One thing, however, is common in both Mr. and Mrs. Ershad -- both of them are beneficiaries of the current political situation. Like Raushan, Ershad also enjoys the blessing of the current government. He has been made a special envoy by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with status of a minister. The trial proceedings of some criminal cases against him, including Gen. Manzur murder, have not got space. Therefore, it is difficult to keep faith in whatever Ershad says. Rather, when Mr. and Mrs. Ershad take opposite stance on any issue, it only generates amusement for people in return for paying salaries and other benefits to Ershad, Raushan and other MPs.
The writer is Senior Reporter, The Daily Star.