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Waiting for the loser

Khawaza Main Uddin | Update:

Anxiety, concern, panic, fear, frustration, suffering, resentment, anger, condemnation – not any of the words alone can reflect the gravity of the situation we are facing these days.

For the rival camps, there are statements and reactions galore, to instigate millions. The commoners see plenty of analyses and of course verbal solutions to the crisis – be it political, of violence or of insurgency.

But the deadlock remains as it is, with no end in sight, at least for the time being.

While the belligerents – the ruling Awami League’s 14-party combine well-equipped with coercive state machinery and the BNP-led 20-party alliance determined to play all-out – are guided by their devastating ego and threats of elimination, all stakeholders, including themselves and the businesspeople, commonly want a remedy, which is deemed suitable only for each group.

Everybody wishes the situation marked by violence, intimidation and extra-judicial killing comes to an end, but hardly anyone who matters is willing to take even a little bit of pain. It is as if the change will come one day automatically.

In the process, the whole crisis turns into a confrontation between the AL and the BNP, who together command almost 70 percent of the national vote bank.

Also, the players outside the dominant streams lose their relevance, not for their marginal existence but for a lack of initiative to offer solutions to the crisis.

So, in an AL vs BNP war in Bangladesh of 2015, no party is ready to accept a defeat and more alarmingly, both are adamant to eliminate each other to secure a ‘winner-takes-all’ victory.

The AL has declared it publicly, threatening to kill or try the rival camp’s ‘terrorists’.

The BNP has expressed resolve to bring all AL ‘perpetrators’ to book once the rulers would relinquish power.

Our politicians have never measured the multiplied effects of their actions, especially while in power. Litigation against and harassment of the opposition, extra-judicial killing of political rivals, and provocative statements at the very least – all backfire.

But who cares when s/he has power at hand or has the potential to go to power to overpower challenges and criticisms?

In the present hostile situation where the rivals reach the point of no return, the AL and the BNP are, needless to say, not in a position to reconcile with the option of making peace. They don’t opt for winning the war without defeating the adversaries as compromise is something, which is unperceivable to be the best option.

No gambler can ever imagine whether his/her bet may also perish the very self by inviting bankruptcy.

However, the outsiders in such a zero-sum game may find consolation in the assumption that they are not party to hostilities or that they and their families are free from burning to death and murder in the so-called gunfights. So what if the AL loses or so does the BNP!

When all of us are not at all interested in making any loss, we see a few losers, be they players or spectators in our political strife.

State institutions, for example, are the direct casualties of the confrontations, thanks to politicisation. And a reckless bipartisanship has severely damaged Bangladesh’s social fabric, which was never defined by so much of conflict of tribal thinking which is the reality today.

For sure, a major loser is going to be the national economy, which, we believe, does not belong to the FBCCI alone. It’s a pity that each group or even the individual self claims sole agency of the country’s various businesses. The cliques advocate partial solution to all socio-political problems and they matter more than anybody else in policymaking.

We see no reason why the struggles of the poor who really live from hand to mouth, of the shop owners who can’t make money in turmoil, of the transport workers who have lost their livelihoods in violence and of the middle class women who can’t meet their families’ needs in rulers’ arrogance of power, would be reflected either in GDP or in major political parties’ decision-making.

As most of these social groups are not direct beneficiaries of the politics of client-patron relationship, they also love an opportunistic stance to witness the happenings from a safe distance. Is that, too, possible in a society where the leaders have joined the race of madness?

We know there will be a result of the political confrontations, only without knowing what it is. We are not made conscious of collective gains and losses of our own in the political demonstration. Thus, our people are not a party to the change-making process that determines the future of the country.

Khawaza Main Uddin is working as Consultant at Prothom Alo English portal.

 

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