Oikyafront’s hopeless journey
In the nineteen fifties, a very distinguished and talented politician of erstwhile East Pakistan, H M Suhrawardy, made a comment that has high relevance in the present political context of Bangladesh. He said that zero plus zero plus zero, the sum is still the same zero or nothing of significance. What he intended to mean was no matter the coming together of several or more number of so called or nondescript political entities or forces having few followers, the same do not count for much either in election politics or street agitation.
This description very neatly fits an apparently formidable but really insignificant political entity of today, JatiyaOikya Front or National Unity Front. This conglomeration of some namesake political parties never won any notable number of seats in the parliament of the country during the last 47 years. The Front is headed by Dr Kamal Hossain who never could contest any parliamentary election since the independence of Bangladesh. He became parliament’s member twice in the early seventies but that was because Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman vacated one of the several sears he won to make a way for Kamal Hossain to enter parliament by filling his vacated seat. Thus, in all these years Dr Kamal never succeeded in winning a parliamentary contest by his own strengths. So much for his claim as a national leader. As for the other member parties of the Oikya Front, they together never received even 1 percent of the total popular votes in all the past parliamentary elections held in Bangladesh.
The only exceptional member in the Front during the just concluded national elections on 30 December last was the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). It is counted as one of the two main political parties of the country. But in its present conditions it could hardly pose as a challenger to the incumbent in power, the Bangladesh Awami League (AL). Over the last decade BNP lost much of its shine for pursuing negative politics which had nothing in common with people’s paramount aspirations for stability and security in their lives plus economic progress with solid impact on people’s income and well-being overall. The two topmost persons of the BNP, Chairman Khaleda Zia and her son Tareque Rahman, have been convicted on serious corruption and murder charges respectively. During its last stint in power, the BNP had made itself prominent in the wrong sense by presiding over the country when it was ranked five times in succession as the world’s most corruption infested country. Bangladesh’s ranking in corruption notably improved since the takeover by the present incumbents in power, the AL.
Thus, only from the above it should be amply clear why the voters chose so vigorously and overwhelmingly to reject the Oikya Front during Sunday’s national elections. The Front had hardly anything to show or appeal to voters to be entrusted with taking charge of the country. Not only its top leaderships have become thoroughly discredited or fallen into disrepute. Its enabling of the despised and banned Jaamat-e-Islami to try for a comeback by allowing a large number of former Jaamat men to contest elections under its banner, completely soured the mood of a great many number of voters. The Jaamat was banned for its heinous collaborative activities with Pakistani forces during our war of independence in 1971. For this utter lack of patriotism, it lost its registration as a legitimate political party. The hobnobbing of the Front with such anti-independence forces must have disillusioned a very large number of voters. In the just ended national elections, some over 20 million young voters became eligible to vote who are pulsated by strong spirit of nationalism and patriotism. Needless to say, they just hated the Front’s stratagem to once again help the Jammat to be rehabilitated in the political process.
The accomplishments of the incumbent AL in the last ten years was also a very powerful factor of persuasion for the voters. The last BNP led government had given them nothing except suffering particularly in the economic sense. Consumers of powers both household and commercial/industrial suffered agonizingly from regular long periods of power shutoffs in that period. Today the power situation is vastly altered for the better. People’s per capita income and micro level economic opportunities have substantially gone up. It is no exaggeration but a reality that Bangladesh in all sectors witnessed splendid economic expansion and development like never before in its past history. People are keenly sensing that the best is yet to come with full completion of the current mega development projects now in various stages of implementation. No wonder, therefore, they decided to opt for the incumbents in power so massively.