Freedom! In a democracy, people generally enjoy the four freedoms-freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear first propagated by US President Roosevelt in his message to Congress on 6 January 1941. Bangladeshis have freedom of speech. There is no law to gag the press. The country protects complete freedom of the press. Bangladesh is a secular state. So we have freedom of worship. The present government has promulgated to depauperize (to rescue from poverty) the country and make her self-sufficient in food. But hooliganism has been increasing rampantly everywhere under the umbrella of vicious people. Political imbroglio and intransigence is hurdling off the passage of development. Perhaps political deadlock causes worse havoc than natural calamities. Because narrow self-interest is often considered as the basis of politics.
When a party has been given the mandate to form the government, the opposition and its allies lose their ways and knuckle down to oust it from office within a couple of years. Most political movements of last few years were actuated by low and selfish motives. Bangladesh is a penurious country. About eighty percent of the total population of the country live in the villages and struggle for earning their keep only. These illiterate and simple, indeed poor people, have political apathy because of their socio-economic status. The newfangled ideas to protect the franchise would not have bothered people provided that their fundamental rights are available.
Hartal is a usual procedure, pregnant with consequences, to pull down the government and jump the queue. Hartal mania has gripped the opposition again. Most of the time the purpose of the opposition-sponsored hartals remains unconvincing. The present opposition’s four-point demand include release of detained opposition leaders, reforming the election commission, postponement of pourasabha (municipal) election and issuing identity cards to voters before the poura (municipal) polls. If one penetrates into the demands, certainly he will find nothing good to the people. The opposition has hardly built up any movement on socio-economic issues of the country. It often occurs to me the mission in opposition leader’s life is only to enfranchise people. Bangladesh is an independent and sovereign country. She provides all people with right to vote at parliamentary elections. It is just playing a joke on people when opposition crosses the Rubicon and calls hartal for protecting the independence and sovereignty of the country. It is merely a political hocus-pocus and pure bunkum.
What can profit people? Why on earth do they not damn hartal? The opposition leader always claims that hartal has been observed throughout the country. The masses are beside it. It is not at all true. How does the opposition expect people to acquiesce in such an absurd proposal? People hardly had time to ponder. Hartal is a politician’s decision. So they have to carry it out-doesn’t matter if they liked it or not. During hartal people are cowed by terrorism. Pickets bully people to be confined in houses.
The opposition smells a rat whenever an election is held under the government. It accuses the government for gerrymandering and rigging without substantiation. The demagogue and his henchmen brew trouble for all of us through political platform. Hartal is an outrage and inflicts misery on people. The right to call and observe hartal is not questioned. Only the right should be exercised at the right time and in the right manner. The opposition should build up movement on socio-economic issues, instead of creating suffering of the people. The opposition should outmaneuver in its campaign to win the support of the people.
Hartal is a preposterous means to pull down the government. Because it tells upon not only the health of trade and business, production in mills and factories, reconstruction efforts but also takes a toll on every household. Moreover, it impedes the academic atmosphere of educational institutions. Hartal is a means through which political leaders exploit general people for their vested interest. On no consideration, hartal can be observed in the country. Gain by calling hartals could be termed as a pyrrhic victory. US Ex-President Ronald Reagan used to repeat his favourite story: “The lawyer won the case but his client was hanged”. English saying-Operation was successful but the patient died. In other words, despite the efficiency of our leaders, public interest continues to be critically unsafe.
Our leaders should lay this substandard means i.e. hartal instead of negotiation to resolve political disputes. If the dispute is to be resolved there must be some give and take between the government and the opposition. True leaders can never let down people. I think political leaders’ mission in life is to give yeoman service to the people. It is hoped that they will shun corrupt politics which leads them get on the gravy train for grafting .The organs of public opinion should represent the facets to this problem. The media should display Gallup Poll conducted by independent pollsters. If a referendum is held on issue, I am cock-sure that people will say no. However, the fact remains that in a parliamentary democratic system the opposition is as indispensable as the government. The system cannot work normally if the parts don’t work together.