The Boat and the BNP-Jamaat
The election symbol of the Awami League is a boat; interestingly, AL now resembles a boat as big as Noah's Ark as it accommodates anybody from any party, irrespective of political colour and ideology.
According to a Prothom Alo report, more than 19,000 BNP-Jamaat leaders and workers joined the Awami League during the last one and a half years in different parts of the country. Joining ceremonies took place in as many as 62 places in different upazilas, sometimes in presence of ministers and central leaders.
The door of the Awami League is wide open. Anybody who is somebody in the BNP and Jamaat, no matter whether he is a religious fundamentalist or a Muslim nationalist, is most welcome in the fold of the non-communal and Bangali nationalist party. An Awami League presidium member, who himself had left his leftist organisation and joined the Awami League, has said, "If any good organiser from the BNP (and Jamaat) comes to the Awami League, it will strengthen our organisation." As if the Awami League is suffering from a shortage of good organisers. But then again, it is.
The daily Samakal on Monday reported that a large number Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury's supporters recently joined the ruling party. Chowdhury has been sentenced to hang to death on charges of crimes against humanity in 1971. It seems as if the Awami League leaders are relieved that at least a portion of the anti-liberation forces will not resort to any disruptive activities or hurl petrol bombs on innocent passengers.
A drama was staged at Raujan in Chittagong recently. A local BNP leader joined the Awami League after he was arrested the previous evening on charges of murder of a local Awami League worker. Police released the man the day after and in that very evening, he went straight to the Awami League office and joined the party. Everyone is eagerly waiting to witness many more dramas in the near future.
Activists of BNP and Jamaat seem to be in a state of calamity; they need a shelter, or maybe even a boat, that will take them in. There are times when a human being needs a stone to lean against. Most of these BNP-Jamaat men seem to have no other alternative but to join the ruling party.
The BNP people have seemingly lost faith in their leader Khaleda Zia while the Jamaat leaders and cadres have lost faith in the Almighty, whose rule they apparently wanted to impose on earth. Now they do not have enough courage to face disaster and endurance to survive a difficult ordeal. The difficulty of life had compelled them to come close to the Awami League. And the Awami League accepted them heartily.
Life and politics are nothing but compromise and adjustment. Politics is no longer a matter of ideals and values. In the near future, a new era will usher in where there will be no difference between secular and communal, pro-liberation and anti-liberation forces. Everybody will live in peace and harmony on this soil.
Pointing to the BNP leader's planned trial in a special tribunal for 'instigating arson attacks', Information Minister and JSD leader, Hasanul Huq Inu, categorically said, "If Khaleda Zia can prove her innocence there, she will continue to be in politics, otherwise, she will have to say goodbye to politics and go to jail." The information minister informed that when the elections will be held in 2019, Begum Zia will stay in Kasimpur Jail.
We have no doubt that the Awami League think-tank is pragmatic and wise enough. They have a road map. Their message to the opposition parties is to either join your hands with us or perish. They will try their best to weaken or break up BNP, because BNP is a threat to Awami League. There are many ways to destroy BNP and Khaleda Zia. They do not bother to realise that whatever popularity BNP has had is because of the government's unpopularity. Awami League's policymakers should take measures to gain popularity by means of pro-people activities and establishing the rule of law.
Pakistani President Ayub Khan and Governor Monem Khan left no stone unturned to destroy Awami League and Sheikh Mujib. But they failed completely; their attempt was actually counter-productive as AL gained more popularity. In politics, the principle of peaceful co-existence is the best policy. AL will not be strengthened if tens of thousands of BNP-Jamaat people join the party, as these men could turn out to be a burden. The original Awami Leaguers will feel uncomfortable and deprived. When a boat is overcrowded, it is sure to capsize or sink.
The writer is a noted author, researcher and social activist.