Dr. Sinha MA Sayeed
On this very day of the opening death anniversary of HM Ershad, a legend in the history of Bangladesh for so many reasons, explainable or not, let me out the outset, pray to Allah for his departed soul. He shall be recollected for his outstanding role in hastening the speeds, wheels and processes of development in the broadest conceptual understanding to convert Bangladesh into ‘Golden Bangladesh’. A general turned-politician with almost all sorts of odds and niceties, he was a messenger and harbinger of a beautiful Bangladesh and set himself as a great implementor as such through his 18-point program contained as the vision and mission of his audaciously floated JP in the face of herculean challenges and dilemmas of the contemporary landscapes in Bangladesh. Known as CMLA meaning cancellation of my last announcement, he emerged, existed and continued as a man of oscillation, swindling and dwindling like anything sometimes at his will, at times due to the circumstances going beyond ultra plus, which made him a figurine or dictated software in the hands of Sheikh Hasina predominantly and Khaleda Zia and Tarique Zia slightly. He cherished profoundly to see himself as a great leader christened with statesmanship but, ill-luck would have it, his overall mindset largely developed and got stuck up ill-advisedly because of his military background made him finally unflattering political leader and politician in its terminological context and content.
There is no denying the fact that HM Ershad was a best suitable darling child in the politics of his time since both AL and BNP made him target as a very dependable passage to power. It happened in 1991, 1996, 2001, 2009, 2014 and even more nastily in 2018. It was HM Ershad who complying with 7-point consensus formula of the hen combined opposition alliance led by BNP and AL from their respective stands, handed over power just about peacefully to Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed, then Chief Justice of Bangladesh, as vice-President leading to Acting President of the first Non-party, Neutral Carr-Taker Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh on 06 December 1990, which was validated by the 11th Amendment to the Constitution of Bangladesh. It was HM Ershad who had to meet with the worst consequences of such handing over of power to initiate a new democratic era in Bangladesh. So long he was alive, he could not gain unflinching faiths and respects even from the ranks and files of his beloved JP. Seen him closely in my capacities of secretary for international, information, research and publicity affairs for long twelve years from 1986 to 1998, I am very much convinced had HM Ershad proved his excellence in upholding his decision-making mind with necessary political acumen and strategies, yes, he would have become the best President in Bangladesh at least for next 30 years. I resigned but he did not accept it, asked additional secretary Naziur Rahman Monju to convince me to continue but I made up my mind to divorce finally (kept and preserved all document necessarily).
In my regular column ‘Time, Space and Dimeson’ in Dhaka Courier, leading international weekly in English from Bangladesh, I wrote an article titled ‘Ershad, Jatiyo party and Bangladesh’, Dhaka Courier, Volume 29, and Issue 7 on 31 August 2012. I wrote 10-12 articles on JP and Ershad so far but this article was a very comprehensive one on Ershad on all counts. Ershad used to read this weekly seriously so, he asked Enayetullah Khan, owner and editor of the weekly to meet him along with me. We met him at his House at Baridhara. We had a long meeting lasting about three hours on the various issue most of which contained in the article. Few leaders like secretary general Ruhul Amin Howlader and others were present. He also invited Prof. Ataur Rahman, who is my direct teacher, department of political science, DU, and Mr. Irteza Nasim Ali, owner and editor of weekly in English ‘Probe’. Why he did call so many personalities? I realized a sense of loneliness, lack of self-confidence was chasing him unconsciously or sub-consciously.
He was free, cordial, soft and friendly while talking to me even in a few minutes’ private talks, he asked me to join with whatever position and portfolio I prefer. I told him with a deep sense of suffocation and pains ‘Sir, if you are ever in a position to do politics and run the party without being chained by any quarter, you need not request me then I myself come happily and be with you, no matter of portfolio and position’. I observed his face and mental oscillations’. His mind and expressions are opposing each other. In one of the talk shows on Tritiyo Matra, episode 5827, 18 July 2019, also included were Dr. Zafarullah, the heart of Gonosastha, and Mr. Mahamudul Islam Chowdhury, JP leader and former Mayor and MP, on HM Ershad immediately after his demise, I narrated some facts about him. Even in another talk shows on the same channel, which was participated by me and Prof. Dr. Syed Anwar Hossain, leading historian and intellectual, episode 5837, 29 July 2019, I was so ashamed of the sayings of Prof Anwar when he started recalling Ershad with deep respects for his contributions to Bangladesh, although during his longevity hardly any intellectual like him uttered a single positive word recalling such contributions. Alas! This is our Bangladesh.
Once our teacher Sardar Fazlul Karim, prof. at the department of political science of DU and a philosopher indeed, said ‘Remember the crude reality, whenever we recall any dead personality to recall his o her contributions, we do it not for meaningfully to recall his contributions at all rather expose ourselves under such musk or shield’. After the death of HM Ershad so many condolences, statements poured in making him virtually a torch of the nation and Bangladesh. Even our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina lauded Ershad while delivering a speech on him in Parliament and all took place when Ershad is dead, not in a position to hear and enjoy. Today, as usual, we hear and see statements highlighting Dead Ershad with choosy, fascinating and rarest words in the dictionary but hardly from the bottom of hearts!!
What the legacy Ershad left behind big question it is. To the people of Bangladesh, he shall be remembered as a dreamer of development with necessary odds and follies and to his Jatiyo Party, he shall continue, knowingly or unknowing, as ideal, model and come what may not. Departed HM Ershad is more powerful, attention-grabbing and essential than alive HM Ershad lagging behind the great legacies of the introduction of Upzila system and Islam as the state religion.
Notwithstanding anything said and noted about Ersahd, unfurling truth is that ‘HM Ershad came with a golden vision and mission, he continued with oscillations and tensions and he left, left with not so much noises and illuminations as if a hero of Greek tragedies. And, therefore, may Allah bless the departed soul taking all into accounts.
(Dr. Sinha MA Sayeed (titled ‘Global voice’ for the book O United Nations), writer, columnist, public speaker, member of International Political Science Association and Chairman of Leadership Studies foundation, LSP, at email@example.com)
Dr. Sinha MA Sayeed