Sinha M. A. Sayeed
Dearth of statesmen in a political party may be minimised for a while but poverty of statesmen can barely be minimised for a long period to keep pace and rhythm with time, space and dimension in national, bi-lateral, regional and international perspectives and landscapes. The matter tends to be a momentous one if the party is a major one; however, it appears to be the gravest one when the party carries a tradition of forming government and sitting in the opposition in Parliament in an alternative course of term. Anxiously enough, the matter takes the shape of torpedo/cyclone/tsunami when it is found and experienced that all the political parties in a country suffer habitually from such identical lacking, which cannot but be dubbed as a variety of ‘political sickness’ of the highest order. Notwithstanding anything contained in the baskets of our political parties about the historic statesmanship of their respective leaders, we, the people of Bangladesh, are still being hunted bearing a weight of concerns about statesmanship and exercises of statesmanship. Taking resorts to all sorts of studies, researches, paradigms and approaches made locally, nationally, regionally and internationally till the date, yes, let us dig, find and understand where is Bangladesh standing at the present?Can a party of the 21st century, which is by and large framed and formed after the spirit of the call of time embracing, apart from ideological ethos, manifesto and programs, as well science, technology and religion (founded on scientific interpretations in line with basic sense and fortitude), be without a statesman or a stock of statesmen in its fold before the appearance and standing of the challenges, predictable or not? Answer is yes, it can. But this ‘can’ is limited to a certain standards and norms for the reason that there may hardly be a political party without a statesman definition of which is usually determined astutely depending on a state of standing under the circumstances, approving or not. However, when a political party or state is principally led by political leadership with poor statesmanship or when a political party or administration does not pay due attention to statesmanship and its onward exercises it then starts suffering from not having fruits of good administration.
What is the most imperative to wrap up is to see and assess the qualities, quantities, environs and the state of statesmanship of the person or persons in a political party, big or small since in today’s world political leaderships with poor statesmanship has in meticulous become a matter of grave worry in the developing countries. It is on record that such political leadership with poor statesmanship is frequently inclined towards giving birth to cronyisms, philistinism, corruptions, restiveness and so on distorting and perverting the very foundation of democracy meaning government by the people, of the people and for the people. No doubt, it’s a matter of earth-shattering disquiet. Experiences, near or remote, in the countries of South Asia bear glaring testimonies to it and, unfortunately enough, Bangladesh is now locked partly within this wrinkle. Marginal or non-practice of democracy in action from inner-party to local to national bodies, elective or not, are being perceived, nursed and carried by those who are typically in politics and statecrafts irrespective of position and opposition(s).
Today our political leaders, ranks and files, supporters and well-wishers seem convinced as virtual certainty that democracy in a party denotes the saying(s) of the leader at the top, democracy in parliament implies utterance(s) of the leader of house for the majority party in Parliament, for the opposition it is word(s) of the leader of the opposition in Parliament and in the government it undeniably means the verdict of the head of government known as Prime Minister in our ongoing parliamentary system of government. More interesting is that intelligentsia, associations and bodies of respective folds and shades are also of the same mind and expression. Hence, all concepts such as development, transparency, good governance, national interests, national welfare and so forth remain as the sole jurisdiction of the leaders concern.
Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina prioritises development and for putting such development into reality exercises of democracy also called political development should better be kept under ‘protected zone’; foreign policy should not be discussed so overtly; regime security should be treated as one and the same with national security; and above all, Sheikh Hasina, three-time PM, should be perceived and conceived as a ‘darling child of democracy, development and leadership anointed with statesmanship’. Therefore, message is ‘please talk less, work more and prove the excellence of patriotism after the model of the party-in-power without having a sense of suffocation, depression and strangulation, whatever the situations appears to be’. Nevertheless, I sense that Sheikh Hasina’s strength of mind even in the face of Himalayan challenges and/or dilemmas deserve to be recalled.
Sheikh Hasina, apparently or not, succeeded in settling the long-standing burning issues, directly or indirectly, with India. Accord at home: Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord on 2 December in 1997 was possible because of positive role of India since the insurgents took shelter in India; use of multilateral body like PCA: Delimitation of Indo-Bangladesh Maritime Boundary through a landmark judgment by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Attribution (PCA) in August 2014 and striking bi-lateral Agreements with India: Under these come Ganges water sharing Treaty on 12 December in 1996 and implementation of Bangladesh-India Land Boundary Agreement of 1974 through its ratification by Constitution (One hundred and nineteen Amendment) Bill of India, May, 2015(According to constitutional relevant provisions, this shall be transformed into an act after it has been signed by the President of the Republic of India). Such initiatives and implementations brought Bangladesh-India relations closer than ever before. This is the first time that BNP congratulated the Hasina led administration for such grand successes, although a section of critics still go on detecting and smelling many an incongruity that would be manifested in future making Bangladesh a natural butt of negative points and feedbacks. One must not die into oblivion of the moot differences between Hasina administration with others such as BNP and Ershad administrations. While the Hasina dared to take initiatives and bargained, others just followed policy of either makeshifts arrangements or sidetracked tactfully. India termed the period as ‘Role model’ relations between India and Bangladesh. More illustrative is Prime Minister Modi’s saying: ‘Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujubur Rahman liberated Bangladesh while Sheikh Hasina saved it’.
From all such standpoints, to the ranks and files of AL, Sheikh Hasina is a striking beyond-time statesman on the earth-planet while to the activists of BNP, Begum Khaleda Zia stands as the best of all statesmen, past, present and future. As regards HM Ershad, needless to say no matter which as, to his party men, he is the statesman who should alone be credited for sequential reforms in Bangladesh. Congratulations, Sheikh Hasina, Begum Khaleda Zia and HM Ershad. Then what is left for the people of Bangladesh! Is it not the twisted-solace getting aired on a high volume ‘Hurrah, Hurrah Bangladesh!!!?
[Dr. Sinha M. A. Sayeed, Chairman of Leadership Studies Foundation, member of International Political Science Association, writer and columnist at email@example.com, Bangladesh]
Sinha M. A. Sayeed