Political fracas just got underway: Yunus to join the fray
Political fracas just got underway: Yunus ready to join the fray
A.H. Jaffor Ullah
Dr. Yunus just got back toDhaka on February 7 after 10 days of absence. The Grameen Chief had not slowed down a bit after receiving the Nobel Prize from Oslo , Norway . He was visiting New Delhi India where he met with Dr. Manmohan Singh, the PM and other big shots. From India the GB chief went to oil rich sand dune of Bahrain where he received a royal treatment. After his heroic return to Dhaka the Nobel laureate broke all the trammels of modesty while addressing the thronged press in which he annunciate that he is now mentally ready to join the politics in Bangladesh. This news was greeted as expected with much fanfare by our people. A web site [run fromUSA ] by neophytes at politics will no doubt host blogs through which the participants will heave a collective sigh of relief thinking that Dr. Yunus will finally save our motherland from the grip of evil gangs that hijacked good governance and replacing it with rent-seeking, nepotism, making quick dough and what not?
Dr. Yunuss caprice vis-à-vis joining the politics needs elaboration since he had changed his mind not once but several times in the last three months. Immediately after receiving the word that he has finally received the coveted prize, many people have asked him whether he will join the politics. At the time (probably in late October or early November 2006) he said that he wont join the politics but he was hopeful that the dialogs between two supreme leaders must continue. He also reiterated that the election is a must. If you think I am making this up, then please visit the paper stacks of any on-line newspaper published from Dhaka and prove me wrong.
We all saw how irrational Dr. Iajuddin was during the 75 days when he acted doubly as the chief of caretaker government on top of being the president of Bangladesh . Dr. Yunus met Dr. Iajuddin before he went to Korea to receive a prestigious prize and advised the latter that he should deal with a strong hand the politicians of Bangladesh as the nation prepares for a fair and square election. Dr. Yunus failed to see how pathetic Dr. Iajuddins performance as the CA of caretaker government was.
As a globetrotter Dr. Yunus was in and out of the country when a big change took place on January 11, 2007 when the military pushed Iajuddin from behind to resign from the post of CA and to declare the emergency. Bangladesh s people were stunned by this development but no one had the guts to inquire how did this happen. I chanced to read an advance copy of Financial Times (of London ) in the Internet on January 18 where it was disclosed that the army wished Dr. Yunus to take the charge of the caretaker government. This offer may have been made to Dr. Yunus sometime in early January when the two big political parties were at loggerheads over the staging of election on January 22, 2007. Had it not for the military Iajuddin and the EC would have conducted the election on that day and Khaleda Zias party, BNP, would have come out victorious sans AL s participation. The country was slatted to be run by Khaledas son, Tareque Zia and his band of friends such as Mamun, Falu, and ministers like Huda, Salauddin, Nasir Uddin, and many more like them. Khaleda would have reappointed such political sages as Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury and Moudud.
Dr. Yunus knew full well what was about to happen but he chose to remain reticent. Bangladesh s plebeian have high hopes on Dr. Yunus and he could have spoken his mind on the sensitive nature of parliamentary election. Unfortunately, he did not. The country was on the edge but he chose to visit foreign nations to receive accolades.
In the last 27 days (January 12 through February 7) since Dr. Fakhruddin assumed the power a remarkable change has happened in Bangladesh . The joint forces of military and police have arrested about 40,000 people who the government says are criminals and troublemakers with political patronage. On top of this the government had arrested 25 top level politicians and godfathers of crime from both the BNP and AL. The news of their arrests has captivated the masses and the likes of which were seen before in recent times. The arrests of the bigwigs happened when Dr. Yunus was out of the country. Thus, on his return the press was too eager to know the Nobel laureates gut reaction to these arrests.
After reading several newspapers published from Dhaka I learned the following: 1. Dr. Yunus thinks he is ready to join the politics if the situation is right and if civil society members want him to do so. 2. For this purpose he is ready to form a new political party. 3. He is mentally prepared to join the politics.
Dr. Yunus was in a mood to talk to the press and he did that with a lot enthusiasm. He thinks that the politics will be done in a novel way. The change has come to Bangladesh due to action taken by the new caretaker government. And he thinks this change augurs well. The politics of the past was not successful, he opined. Therefore the country is lagging behind and we have to cover it up, he added.
Dr. Yunus spoke his mind on several issues relating to reform in the election process, combating crime and criminals from political arena. He also stressed on barring dishonest and corrupt people from participating in the election. He is not that concern about how much time it may take for the caretaker government to prepare the nation for a fair election.
In summary, Dr. Yunus did not wait for the call from civil society to announce that he is ready to join the politics. I have always maintained that we should watch what Dr. Yunus and see what he does as far as joining politics is concerned. I have a feeling that he will provide leadership to the Third Force, which had been mentioned in newspapers for quite sometime. As the popularity of the professional politicians are on the wane. Dr. Yunus thinks the time is ripe for joining the horse and cattle show we lovingly call politics. It is now a foregone conclusion that the seasoned politicians will not be able to win the election in near future. The army does not want it and mind you, they are at the catbird seat of power. Their opinion matters a great deal as weve seen on January 11, 2007 when the belligerent and partisan president Iajuddin relinquished the power without uttering a word. All power emanates from the barrel of guns as Chairman Mao Tse-tung once said or wrote in his Red Book.
A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans , USA