Political Leadership: Bangladesh model

Political Leadership: Bangladesh model

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Sinha M. A. Sayeed
Leadership is a condition precedent for a group, association, body or organisation, whatever the circumstances appear to be. A state sans leadership in various areas covering politics, business, education, religion, culture economics, science and technology is like a ship without captain. Of all types and classes of leaderships, political leadership stands high in esteem, altitude and gravity because politics deals with approximately all the issues in and around a state having necessary links with national, bi-lateral, regional and global compacts. Therefore saying is ‘to become a political leader one has to go through a series of pains, sufferings, challenges, odds, dilemmas, sacrifices setting aside various forms and scales of accusations, defamations, slurs both organisationally and individually. Hence the question of an organisation, which is in politics called ‘political party’, is important and truth is that political leadership originates centering on a political party. Knowing very well that ‘field of politics is not a bed of roses’ here a political leader remains mostly uncompromising on her/his stand, policies and programs based on matching vision and mission aimed at going to power through elections to parliament primarily and to local bodies secondarily.A politician, political leader, or political figure (from Classical Greek πόλις, “polis’) is a person who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making. This includes people who hold decision-making positions in government, and people who seek those positions, whether by means of election, inheritance, coup d’état, appointment, conquest, or other means. They create and or propose laws that further the general interest of the public. Politics is not limited to governance through public office. Political offices may also be held in corporations. In civil uprisings, politicians may be called freedom fighters. In media campaigns, politicians are often referred to as activists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politician)
Reality unfolds the truth that political leadership is a product of the politics in a country depending on time, space and dimension. Politics, from the extreme point of view, aims at the well-being and development of the people in a state keeping rhythm with bi-lateral, regional and international overall landscapes and realities with all the possible limitations and opportunities therein. Speaking in the superlative, political leadership is the highest form of leadership on all counts since political leadership is well christened and colored with a set of vision and mission backed by sacrifices, risks and contributions.
‘Political leadership means more than successful political management and must also be differentiated from hierarchical control or management concept as it is understood in a free market. It implies a guidance function by setting a new agenda and creating necessary acceptance for change. This is all the more important when it applies to political reforms that initially require painful intervention in the existing rights of voters. Warren Bennis formulated it as follows: ‘Leaders provide a sense of to help create goals and objectives. People want leaders to provide context’. Therefore, public leadership inevitably has a strongly prescriptive character’. (http://www.fundacionbertelsmann.org/fundacion/data/ESP/media/EN_LiderazgoPol.pdf).
There must have distinguishing landmarks of political leaderships between or among developed and developing countries. More actuality is that lot of differences are discernible within the folds of developed and developing states. Therefore, each and every country maintains and holds politics and political system that are by and large pointedly called home-grown/home-made. Hence, there must be marked differences between two countries even if they belong to the same system of government whether the system is presidential or parliamentary or mixed one in multi-party order. This is an extension of the write-ups published in the weekly PROBE on 13 October 2012 and in the Financial Express under the title ‘Bangladesh suffers from leadership deficiencies’ on 26 September 2012, Bangladesh and on 28 April in the Bogota Free Planet, a leading Online Daily in South America. The carnal point that makes political leadership distinct and distinguishing is its vision and mission.
Bangladesh, officially the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia; and is bordered by India to its west, north and east; Burma to its southeast and separated from Nepal and Bhutan by the Chicken’s Neck corridor. It is a member of developing countries with 160 million population and a land of 147,570 km, has no immunity from this virtual certainty and thus political leadership here in Bangladesh nearly comes to be known as ‘Political leadership after Bangladesh model’. In plain language, this model comes possibly from the factual appearance of the ingredients/factors as follows:
* Politics in Bangladesh is still within the zone of antagonisms, opportunities and privileges instead of mutual understanding, tolerance and sacrifices amounting to responsibility (visit author’s article ‘Moot point is political leadership’ athttp://sinhaearthblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/moot-point-is-political-leadership.html);
* The nation is diametrically divided into two opposed camps, one is led by AL and other is headed by BNP. This has given birth to the politics of ‘yes and/or ‘no’, which implies if AL says yes to anything then BNP utters no to that immediately without giving thought to the weight, importance, necessity and practicability and vice versa. Consequently, long-coveted ‘national consensus’ on major and burring issues, internal and external, has become a day dream under the ongoing mode and pattern of politics(visit author’s article’ Three-phase national consensus formula: Bangladesh Perspective at http://sinhaearthblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/three-phase-national-consensus-formula.html). Interestingly enough, there is a unique consensus between them from the seat of the position and the seat of opposition in Parliament since they opportunistically speak in the same voice and tone while in such standing. This may rightly be called a kind of ‘consensus behind the curtain.
Because of this division nearly all sectors from professional to non-professional bodies, associational to non-associational organisations, think-tank to non-think-tank entities and NGOs have come under the umbrella of these two parties and politics of alliance is revolving around them. A sense of politicisation is hunting all emotionally or whimsically. This has further developed undesirable currents and trends at the disregard of right and/or wrong. What AL and BNP say that’s binding on all under their respective umbrellas. Today, ‘brain-mortgage’, ‘brain-sale’ and ‘brain-tender’ are on in full swing. Alas! Bangladesh, alas! fast falling conscience. Should we be contended with such negative landscapes of independent Bangladesh?
* All kinds of negative cronyisms, philistinism and commercialism are rampant here providing, helping and sustaining a corruption-friendly environment from bottom to the top;
* Politics has been made prey to commercialisation and consequently almost all the key decision-making and law-making bodies, elected or not, like Parliament, Council of Ministers, Council of Advisors have been captured by so-called industrialists, traders, hoarders, bank-loan defaulters an the like evicting ‘tested politicians’ from there.
* Religion plays a very important role in the politics of Bangladesh. Even political parties in the left fold are very much aware of dealing their politics showing befitting respects and honor to the necessity of religions of various kinds for their existence and continuance. Leading left leader Mujaffar Ahmed once voiced publicly that ‘a man can be religious in private life at the same time being a communist in politics. Therefore, communism is for the worldly life while religion is for the world after death’. Leaders of the leading parties including petticoat parties Awami League (AL) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are to a large extent mathematical in weighing and using religion, if a need arises. The very basis of Indo-phobic Bangladesh at the mass level is religion upon which rests the foundation of Bangladeshi Nationalism as opposed to Bengali Nationalism, two leading currents in the politics of Bangladesh. Former President and Jatio Party Chairman HM Ershad incorporated ‘Islam’ as state religion by the Constitution (Eighth Amendment) Act of 1989 and this has been contained and strengthened assertively in the Constitution (Fifteen Amendment) act of 2011 by the incumbent ruling secular political party AL as well.
Ironically enough, people here are on the whole religion-fearing, not religion-performing perfectly in most of cases in the true sense of the term. Practice and application of religious teachings and lessons at micro and macro levels from the standpoints of honesty, dedication, sincerity and transparency are not so manifest in the life of the people, although all these are highly desirable for the overall integrity, individually and/or collectively. On all accounts, Bangladesh is a widely claimed moderate Muslim country where, in comparison with other countries, maximum tolerance and harmony between or among the different and diverse religious communities are ensured and upheld (visit author’s article ‘Missing link in politics and statecraft http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/more.php?news_id=131583&date=2012-06-03);
* Democracy means, mostly ostensible at this juncture, free and fair elections to Parliament aimed merely at going to power’. This narrowest understanding of democracy is itself a threat to the understanding and having taste and fruit of democracy in its factual form and manifestation. No importance in practice is attached to the free and fair elections to local bodies in line with the elections to Parliament. Election Commission is yet to emerge as an Independent Commission standing on its own. It is still under the command of the PM’s office and is wrought with limitations, inherent, administrative and political; Distrusts, suspicions, misunderstanding to each and one another are on in a vibrant mode and manner for which the inevitability of non-party, neutral care-taker government came to be accurate for Bangladesh. Despite the verdict of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court about the cancellation of the Non-Party CTG (incorporated by the Constitution (Thirteenth Amendment) Act of 1996) by the Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Act of 2011, the issue appears to be remaining alive because of the demand of the people at large including major opposition BNP and its allies. Politicking—manipulation of votes— by the party/alliance in power, visible or invisible, is hunting the very mindset of the political parties in the opposition camp. As a result, all the three elections under non-party CTG (number will rise to four if the Shahabuddin led CTG is included) were rejected by the defeating parties dubbing them unfair, conspiratorial anyhow. Confidence-building between or among the political parties and leaders is beyond doubt tops the list of the burning issues of the day and, hence, such issue cannot be resolved judicially. Even the full judgment of 16 September 2012 could not emotionally set aside the necessity of such CTG for another two terms covering elections to the 10th and 11th parliaments. But elections to the 10 Parliament were held on 05 January 2015 following the Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Act of 2011 under incumbent Hasina led Alliance government. It was boycotted by the Khaleda Zia-led 20—party Alliance and as a result political unrest and violence are on in full swing. Jatio Party led by HM Ersshad has emerged as a handpicked opposition, although it is not at all matching with BNP politically and organisationally.
* A party is run here on a dictatorial mode and manner. Absence of inner democracy in a party, despite its having a lively, up to date constitution, is a reality here in Bangladesh. All powers are directly or indirectly, formerly or informally, are concentrated in the hands of the chief of the party concerned. No committee of a party or its wings or affiliated or friendly bodies from local to national levels can be given birth to without the will of the chief of the party concerned. Realistically speaking, here a party means to amounting to the sayings and doings of its chief. It is indeed autocracy of the highest order under the cover of’ cosmetic democracy’ (also visit at http://www.daily-sun.com/details_yes_27-01-2011_State-of-leadership:-Bangladesh-perspective_110_2_5_1_1.html;
* Leadership at the peak of a political party is decided and determined in line of succession in the leading political parties and, accordingly, a dynastic rule has become a binding rule in all the major political parties in Bangladesh including AL ( it is Sajeeb Wazed Joy, only son of Sheikh Hasina, who is like to replace her if a need arises) BNP (Tarique Zia, the eldest son of Begum Khaleda Zia and senior vice chairman of BNP, is aleady determined as the successor of Khalesa Zia. He has at present been staying in UK apparently for medical grounds but in reality for political excuses) Jatio Party (because HM Ershad once also appointed his younger brother GM Quader acting chairman of Jatio Party so that in case of exigency or vacuum, he might step into the shoes of his brother Ershad, founder of Jatio Party. He is now called Chairman in waiting). Nearly identical phenomenon prevails in case of death or retirement of leaders at the top and mid-levels.
* Chief of a party in the opposition in parliament also concurrently holds the office of the leader of the opposition in parliament while the same is true to the chief of the majority party in parliament who not only keeps the office of the chief of the party concerned but also becomes Prime Minister. Thus, while in power all the three chief offices are captured by the chief of the party single-handedly and whilst in opposition all the two chief offices are held by its chief of the party alone;
* Going up of women participation in politics and elections to local bodies and national parliament is now marked a noticeable phase here in Bangladesh. It has its natural and necessary blasts on others areas as well. Curiously, top offices of all the major political parties such as AL, BNP and Jatio Party are at this moment held by Sheikh Hasina, Begum Khaleda Zia and Roushan Ershad (handpicked Leader of the Opposition in the current 10th Parliament and senior vice chairman of Jatio Party).
Question of the day is rotating around the priority of economic development over political development. Whenever a political party or regime sits in the position (power), it immediately starts beating the drum of economic development. Hence, there grew and developed a kind of ‘paradoxical standing’ in the milieu of standing in position and standing Opposition. This is indeed a ‘double-standard’ being played by our political parties and leaders shamelessly and opportunistically. End product is comprehensible sidetracking and suppressing democracy and all its necessary wings and institutions. Here everybody purposefully styles himself/herself as Lee Kwan, Dr. Mahathir, Nehru, Nelson Mandela and so on: and
Process of leadership having a touch of statesmanship is not duly attended here as a result a kind of stagnation is persisting alarmingly in these areas. Therefore, all together have given birth to a model of leadership called ‘Bangladesh model’, Resultantly, when we say that X is a good leader in the politics and statecraft of Bangladesh, it passes a message that X is a leader definitely after Bangladesh model. In fact, no political party in Bangladesh is functionally ready to run it politically in consonance with its declared constitution, manifesto and electoral pledges on the one hand and on the other, which is the resultant consequences of the former, no party is ready functionally to play role in Parliament and run a government by demonstrating and establishing leadership with statesman-like qualities in expectation of the needs of the people.
So, if these are the realities then what best else are left for us. Let us sound, sound loudly where, where are HM Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy,Moulana Abul Hamid Khan Bhani, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mubjbur Rahman father of the nation, Nobel Laureate Rabindrahnath Tagore, Rebel poet Kazi Nazrul and many in the respective hemispheres? Let us sound, sound loudly, where, where are the dedicated, scarified souls of the war of independence and war of liberation? Let us echo where, where are our living sector commanders (fie! many of them have listed themselves as earthly personalities including with a stigma of Hallmark financial scam)? Let us echo where, where is our long-cherished ‘Golden Bangladesh’? All behold, behold, and behold the state of politics, leadership and statesmanship in today’s Bangladesh. Should we at this instant lament or wake up?
Yes, I believe we should wake up, wake up and guard against all these happenings that are taking us back to the negation of our will as if we are moving unjustifiably towards a black hole .Let our leaders, upon Almighty Allah, come forward honestly and fairly to take these challenges without any delay. People are waiting for such leaders for a long.
Let Motia Chowdhury, Nurul Islam Nahid, Tofael Ahmed, Ameer Hossain Amu, Obaidul Quader, Syed Asraful Islam, Surenjit Sen Gupta, and MM Muhit in particular in the wrinkle of ruling Awami League play their role as expected by the nations in line with their oath of offices truly. Let other members of the Council of Ministers be rightly responsive and committed to their obligated role for serving Bangladesh
Let Barrister Moudud Ahmed, Shah Moazzam Hossain, Dr. Khondaker Mosharrf Hossain, Dr.Moyeen Khan, Jamiruddin Sarcar MK Anowar, Hannan Shah, Dr. Osman Farooq, Goeshwar Roy and others in the same fold and line in the Major political party BNP in the opposition (now out of parliament because of its boycott of elections to the 10th parliament) come forward and stand by the nation as national leaders not merely as political leaders of BNP. HM Ershad, chairman ofJatio Party and former president of Bangladesh, has a brighter chance to emerge and stand as a ‘third force’ in the electoral politics of Bangladesh with his tested leadership and indomitable zeal for developments, although his party is suffering from an acute shortage of statesmen at this very moment Let HM Ershad, Kazi Zafar, barrister Anisul Islam Mahamud, Mostafa Jamal Haider, Kazi Feroz Rahid, Ruhul Amin Haowlader, Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu in Jatio party stand by the nation as leaders of the time. Let Anowar Hossain Munju and Sheikh Shahidul Islam, respectively chairman and secretary general of JP, play more conspicuous role from their standpoints. Although political parties in the right wing are not so visible and sounded nowadays, up till now the presence of Jamat-e-Islami, an Islamic religion-based political party is also a factor. It is now faced with so many problems and allegations due to role and activities during the war of liberation in 1971.
Left political parties of various folds and ideologies are at a marginal edge on this point, although Rashed Khan Menon, Hasanul Haque Inu, Munjurul Ahsan, Mojahidul Islam Selim, Dilip Borua and ASM Rob are markedly visible while the right political parties including Jammat-e-Islami are habitually following BNP frequently without having any perceptible breakthrough in this regard. Jamat-e-islami is at present shattered because of trials and sentences of the senior leaders for their alleged role against humanity during the war of liberation. Role of Dr. B. Chowdhury, president of Bikalpa Dhara and former president of Bangladesh, and Dr. Kamal Hossain, chief architect of the Constitution of Bangladesh and now president ofGona Forum, are not in a becoming tune with the hopes and aspirations of the people at large. These two stalwarts have confined their role mainly in making statements from time to time. Are not they depriving Bangladesh nauseatingly in this matter?
Let our intelligentsia, think-tanks and civil societies of various shades, opinions and backgrounds in particular get rid of the oft-quoted stigma of practicing ‘brain-mortgage, brain-sale and brain-tender’ and stand by Bangladesh to add their valuable inputs to the birth of political leaders up to the expectations of the people and Bangladesh. ‘Third force’ in this region being away notably from the folds of AL and BNP is a call of time.
Therefore, right or wrong, democratically speaking, Sheikh Hasina and Begum Khaleda, two leading political leaders after Bangladesh model, are the welders of powers from their respective seats of position and opposition in an alternative course of action (although Jatio Party led by HM Ershad has come out as the major opposition in parliament after so-called elections to the 10th Parliament, it is known to all that it happened due to non-participation of BNP in the said electoral race). And May Allah bless Shiekh Hasina, Khaleda Zia and HM Ershad, another leader after Bangladesh model, in meticulous so that they may be committed and sincere with a renewed vow truly to the flowering of leadership in Bangladesh from their respective standing and platforms.
Yes, to comply with the mission and goal of producing leaders, first and foremost condition is to activate the sleeping constitutions of the political parties in practice at the respective party levels, to constitute ‘Shadow Government’ in the opposition in parliament as an alternative platform to the party/alliance in power and gear up the speed of the truthfulness of the members of the Council of Ministers, individually and/or collectively, to the oath of office. All such initiatives are in a position to create a congenial atmosphere for a better ‘Bangladesh model’ in politics resultantly paving way for more forward-looking leaderships. This is a dictate of leadership that it should not sigh a sigh of relief being product of the politics of time, space and dimension rather it should make relentless herculean attempts to move ahead of time, which is called ‘forward-looking leadership’. Therefore, fights are two in nature. One is to move with time, space and dimension and the other is to move ahead of time. When a country lags behind time, space and dimension, it is the bounded responsibility of leaderships both position and opposition to play a role to make attempts to put it on rail first. When it is on the rail of time then come the tasks of taking it forward more. Let our leaders all bear in mind that all of us have to leave this ephemeral world today or tomorrow and the posterity shall not forgive us if we fail to leave behind glorious traditions and foundations.
There is no denying the fact that the ongoing political landscapes in Bangladesh hardly differ from others in the fold of developing countries and thus ‘Political leadership: Bangladesh model’ more or less represent a political landscape of developing countries. Therefore, question again arises pertinently and logically, to what extents do the countries mentionably in South America, Asia and Africa differ and/or resemble?
(Dr. Sinha M. A. Sayeed, Chairman of Leadership Studies Foundation, member of International Political Science Association, writer and columnist at sinha_sayeed611@yahoo.com, Bangladesh)

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