POST TIME: 2 December, 2018 11:29:00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 December, 2018 11:49:07 AM
Is unity front a headless chicken?
Fortunately, in Sheikh Hasina's leadership Bangladesh has not only a leader but a statesman also
Abdul Gaffar choudhury

Is unity front a headless chicken?

The next election is not far away. The atmosphere is gloomy but there is a silver lining in the cloud in that the two main contenders in the election are ready for the fight. Awami League and the unity front both have almost finalized their list of nominees. The lists from both the sides are not very encouraging. Most of the old MPs got nomination in the Awami League front. And the unity front also has selected the old faces from inside and outside of their party to contest the election. The country has changed with its socioeconomic structure and it demands a new leadership of the new generation in the politics. However, politics in Bangladesh has remained somewhat stagnant and the old leadership has retained its position in both political fronts.
In the absence of Begum Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman at the helm of BNP, it was hoped that a new leadership would replace them temporarily. But that hope was dashed out when the BNP and Jamaat group formed a new alliance under the title of unity front and brought back an old veteran politician, Dr. Kamal Hossain from his political retreat to lead the front. At least this selection raised the hope in the minds of many people that unity front is not a headless organization. If the front wins the election there is at least someone to head the new government.
But that hope also was extinguished when Dr. Kamal declared that he is not going to contest in the election personally. All partners of the unity front are ready to allow him to contest the election from any constituency of his choosing. But he refused. I thought it was his political stand to restore his lost political importance. But now the acting President of Gono Forum, declared that Kamal Hossain's final decision is not to contest the election. Now naturally the question arises that if he would not contest the election why did he form the unity front and took its leadership? Was his only aim to take personal revenge against Sheikh Hasina by removing her from power and then to deliver the power into the hands of BNP and Jamaat? Or, was his aim to establish a government which would follow his so-called policy of good governance? If his aim was the second one then why did he decide not to contest the election? With a hope to win this time he could fulfil his promise of the so-called good governance.

I have an impression that although in the past Dr. Kamal Hossain could not win an election, this time there is a hope. He is now in the camp of BNP and Jamaat and if the vote bank of that camp favoured him he might win the election with popular vote for the first time. His front may lose the election but he himself could be elected like Fazlul Huq in the 1946 election. But he is still afraid and unwilling to take part. Some people say he is still haunted by his past failures. But my presumption is that though BNP and Jamaat accepted his leadership for their own interest temporarily, they would not vote for him to ensure his victory. Because in the absence of Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman they are trying to fill the gap in leadership by using him. But afterwards he will be treated like Dr. Badruddoza if they win the election. They will not allow anybody to emerge as an elected leader of unity front who will be a great obstacle for Tarique Rahman to come back to leadership. Perhaps, of late Dr. Kamal has come to realise this truth and he is therefore, very much reluctant to join the band wagon of election.

In India to oust Indira Gandhi from power there was a united front where die hard communal to diehard communists were united. Like Hasina, Indira was accused of autocratic rule. A great socialist leader of that time, Jayaprakash Narayan who was a big uncle to Indira joined the conglomeration to fight her. Indira was defeated in the election and Jayaprakash Narayan failed to hold his influence on this united front. A die-hard rightist ex- leader of Congress Morarji Desai became the Prime Minster and the most communal group of the alliance, the predecessor of BJP, first became the partner in power. When Jayaprakash Narayan realised the result of his political role in the election, he straight went to meet Indira Gandhi. He said with tears in his eyes, ‘For my political short-sightedness I did not realize that I was patronizing an unholy alliance. I sowed the seed of vicious communalism in the soil of democratic India. From this seed a giant tree may rise which might darken the future of India’.

Our Dr. Kamal Hossain does not have a glorious socialist past. Unfortunately, without taking any lesson from our neighbouring country what he is doing may darken the future of democratic Bangladesh. There is only one hope, the situation in the subcontinent along with the socioeconomic structure of the world have changed.

There is a certainty of what happened in India two decades ago will not repeat in Bangladesh. Dr. Kamal Hossain does not have the political and social height like Jayaprakash Narayan that he can mould the history of a democratic country like Bangladesh. Fortunately, in Sheikh Hasina's leadership Bangladesh has not only a leader but a statesman also. In the next election my hope is that the unity front will prove to be a headless chicken. Awami League will probably win a victory and will crush the demons of communalism and fundamentalism and end the unfinished war of 1971.

London, Thursday 29 November, 2018