‘We want honest, courageous and compassionate individual in Chhatra League’ –BCL President
Rezwanul Huq Chowdhury Shovon is the President of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) – which is one of the largest politically affiliated student led organizations in the Continental Asia. In a recent interview with The Bangladesh Today he shared his vision on how BCL can participate in the nation building process.
Q1: Tell us about the background on how you got into politics
I was born in the late 80’s- in the foothills of the Himalaya in the northern Bengal district of Kurigram. Growing up I remember, my house oftentimes, was crammed with people of diverse backgrounds from my community due to my family’s political affinity with Bangladesh Awami League (BAL). In the north, we have an excellent tradition of hospitality as we were more than happy to have guests in our courtyard. To cater the need of our guests, I was given the responsibility of hospitality arrangements like procuring vegetables, rice and other ingredients from the market. I believe my intention to serve the people of my country initiated from my interaction with the community people.
At that time Awami League was cornered in the national political plot. In the early nineties, Awami League was not that organized in the grassroots level. In fact, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)- the incumbent party formed the government- had put Awami League into a position that it was struggling to stand in a firm ground.
In the election of 1996, I saw people flooded our home during the winning moments of national election by Awami League. We had a television set that persuaded people who arrived at our courtyard to watch the results of the election in real-time. I didn’t have the sense of what was happening, why people were cheering but I liked the vibe.
I was in grade six in 2001. By this time, I have built a habit of maintaining diary. After the completion of first semester at the school, my mother gifted me a nootbook and instructed me to ‘write things down’ if I find any interesting thought. What I did is still a source of inspiration for me. In the first page of that diary I scotch-taped a color poster of Bangabandhu so that whenever I open that diary it reminds me of my resolve to follow his ideology for decades to come.
In the same year, Awami League nominated my grandfather to represent the party in the national election from the local constituency. I actively participated in my grandfather’s election campaign. I was responsible for distributing the campaign poster and I made sure that the campaign gets the maximum mileage as I believed in the vision my grandfather had instilled in me. He envisioned a poverty and hunger free north Bengal. Despite giving best efforts, my grandfather didn’t get elected. Awami League’s loss resulted in the victory of BNP.
When I was in grade nine I pro-actively supervised to form a Chhatra League committee in my school. I recommended the best fits to hold certain positions in the committee as I knew beforehand who would direct the committee to achieve its purpose. I was a political rights activist since the early age of my adolescent years. Consider the following example. During nationwide political impasse in the first half of this millennium, I facilitated to supply scrapped tires to different points of the national highways in Kurigram which was later used to create smoke and limit the movement of vehicles.
In higher secondary level, I held the general secretary post of my college’s Chhatra League Committee. After, I had admitted into Dhaka University, I witnessed that scores of students shared the political aspirations of Awami League which was quite the opposite that I had experienced in my community back in Bhurungimari. Most of the youths from my locality were active political activists of BNP during that period.
I was determined to dive into the political activism of Chhatra League the first day I stepped into the university. I idolized Bangabandhu so much that I echoed the same route that he had designed in his early years of politics. I chose to pursue LLB by following the footsteps of the father of the nation. Another motivating factor to choose law was to continue the legacy as my grandfather happens to be a graduate of the Law Department of Dhaka University.
My strong work ethics and dedication to follow Bangabandhu’s ideology, led me to hold important positions of Campus Chaatra League committee in my hall of residence and subsequently, to the University committee. I felt good to hear the inspiring speeches of nation building of university seniors who were at the same leaders of Central Chhatra League Committee. I closely observed the decision making processes of my seniors and learned practical tactics on how I should respond to critical circumstances. One point I would like to make clear about, I never involved in Chhatra League out of the temptation of holding any post in the central committee. I enamored politics because I liked the political stand points and the clear vision of nation building of the father of the nation. Till date, I never vied to secure a post for me in the central committee.
Q2: What should be the primary purposes of student politics? How does BCL manifesting these endeavors in the context of Bangladesh?
Bangabahdu himself founded one of the largest politically affiliated student run organizations in the continental Asia. If we take a closer look on his aim, we find out that he wanted to create a liberated Bangladesh, curved out of erstwhile East Pakistan. He identified that the west Pakistanis only came here to rule and exploit the Bengali nation. His idea of free Bangladesh was implemented in the 1971 war of liberation where the members of Chhatra League made important contributions through valiant participation.
After the independence our goals have evolved as the challenges were to rebuild the nation and direct it to the path of development. In my opinion, politicians are leading the country by joining forces with the secretaries in the back end. If we fail to attract honest people in the field of politics then how do we expect to transform Bangladesh into a developed nation? That’s why we are focused to nurture people who are meritorious, honest and have commendable characteristics. A good example can be our honorable prime minster, Sheikh Hasina. She is honest, intelligent, and gracious. At the same time she only thinks about the prosperity of our country from dawn to dusk. On the other hand, most of us ponder over how much we can personally benefit through political involvements. This culture of selfishness should be replaced with political altruism in order to serve a greater purpose.
Inspired by our Honorable Prime Minister, I am hundred percent committed to patronize the honest and dedicated leaders in the Chhatra League leader board and bestow the country with honest, courageous and compassionate leaders who will lead us in the tumultuous situation of uncertain future.
My strategy to initiate the process will begin in the grassroots level. At Chhatra League, we’ve committees at the district and thana level. We expect to nurture talents who are honors graduates with good academic results and have utmost dedication to the goal of the organization.
Q3: Students and the guardians tend to hold a negative view about BCL’s politics based in university campuses. How BCL wishes to promote a positive image to uplift the value of student politics.
As may have mentioned earlier, we don’t need shrewd people in the organization. We need people who can put the country before their personal interest. Thus our potential recruits are polite, modest and disciplined people who strive to get into a point for the country’s betterment. It can be reasoned as we are facing 21st century challenges. Right now we don’t have the need to free the country from Pakistani perpetrators. Rather, our priorities should be given to nation building processes. As a result, it is mandatory to practice merit based politics. After four decades of liberation, Bangladesh’s administrative structure is now well established. In my speeches, I remind every Chhatra League members to join the civil service and serve the country with a greater purpose. At BCL, we welcome new members who genuinely love the country. Only these kinds of people have the intention to build right caliber and skill sets to work for the development of the country.
Q4: Do you think Awami League has been able to create the ‘Sonar Bangla’ that Bangabandhu had envisioned
Vision 2021 is a part of Bangabandhu’s dream of ‘Golden Bengal’ which is a translation of ‘Sonar Bangla’. Since its ascension to the power, Awami League has kept most of its promises. In the election manifesto, Awami League made promises of delivering digital Bangladesh by 2021. We’re already seeing the materialization of the vision. The number of smartphone users has increased sharply and the speed of internet services has reached at a level which we couldn’t even dream of five to seven years ago.
Q5: How does Chhatra League distinguish itself from other political party affiliated student run organizations?
What distinguishes us from the rest of the student run organizations is our alignment with the forces of the great liberation movement. I think this belief is at the core on what we do and a pure reflection of our everyday activities.
Simultaneously, we want every student led organizations to speak on behalf of legitimate student rights and be decisive in leading any movement. There are some student led organizations that have allied themselves with the anti liberationists. We do not wish to collaborate with them.
We hold a positive viewpoint about the progressive or left leaning student organizations. But their thought process is too much abstract. We find very little relevance of their ideas in real life applications. Very often, they tend to compare Bangladesh’s development with that of developed nations. It is absolutely absurd to make comparison between the USA and Bangladesh. Bangladesh has emerged in the world map only four decades ago whereas the USA has came into existence almost four centuries ago.
Q6: Where do you wishes to see yourself after a decade in politics
When I was a child I set a goal to pursue two types of profession. Either I will join the army or I will become a graduate of Dhaka University Law Department. The later one has fulfilled. However, my ultimate goal was to involve in politics. Because, through politics I will be able to serve the people of my country until I breathe my last.