Portending a political super storm
The rumblings of a perhaps gathering political super storm are once again being heard in Bangladesh. The specter of politically induced turmoil to affect its economy is once again becoming a live concern.
Bangladesh has been blessed with ‘relative’ political stability for nearly the last four years. Relative in the sense that business losses in the form of work days lost, production stoppages, snags in distribution processes, et cetera, that usually have a retarding impact on business, were few in number in this period compared to the periods of political upheavals that the country witnessed many times in the past decades that left their deep scars on the economy in the form of under productivity and underinvestment and hence the lingering of mass poverty.
The economic growth in Bangladesh leaves a lot desired. The fruits of growth are also not percolating down extensively to the grass roots to make the desired substantial dent on the poverty situation. Nonetheless, whatever growth that occurred, helped very notably by political calm, aided countrymen from facing worst times in the economic sense.
The main political opposition to the government has declared their intention to wage mass movement from the coming winter months. In fact, the long threatened all out movement against the government by the main opposition party could be triggered even sooner if the planned political rallies by them are sought to be confronted or frustrated.
Thus, in the absence of mediating good influence on the two sides there is a strong likelihood of this political super storm to pass over Bangladesh in the coming winter months.
And everybody knows what such a storm would mean : hartals or work stoppages in industries and services (even for days at a stretch), disruption in the dispatch and receiving of raw materials and finished products, hazards in maintaining the normal level of export and import activities thereof, great hardships in the life of daily wage earners and a lot more in inviting adversities on the economy.
It has been a long standing feature of political movement in this country that the same cannot be waged in isolation from economic activities. Political actions leading to violence and paralysis of normal conditions (hartals) must have their repercussions in the form of battering the economy. That is why political stability is such a desired state from the perspective of all stakeholders in such stability.
Many times in the past, from different forums, strong advocacies were noted to devise a system for good to compartmentalize the political steam, i.e. resolving political issues through the approved political process in a manner that leaves the economy unhurt. But the same have fallen on deaf ears.
The only welcome development was that periodic elections, peaceful power transfers and again relatively peaceful completion of their tenures by elected governments seemed to be getting accepted as ways and means of changes in political power in Bangladesh from the nineties.
This, very significantly, created the vital enabling conditions for the country’s businesses to get on with their tasks smoothly which in turn paid off in the form of the economy making steady progress and all sections of people gaining from such pacific conditions.
But this trend could be smashed with the probable upcoming political upheaval to be engineered in the coming months. The tragedy is : the vulnerable Bangladesh economy would be hit not by a natural calamity over which nobody has any control but by persons and organizations deliberately to settle political scores regardless that the economy (which everyone should have a stake in saving) could be the most unwanted victim of their actions.
The economy would be subjected to shock and awe tactics to facilitate the designs of those opposed to the incumbents in power when, ironically, among other things, they say they have economy revitalizing issues prominently in their calculations for wanting the unseating of the government before its legitimate tenure runs out. The contradiction between the goals and the reality is so transparent. How the economy will be revitalized when the effects of some weeks or months of political violence may leave it much weakened ? Every economy needs to consolidate its gains and move ahead. Even common sense dictates such a course.
The movement to topple a government before the time allowed to it to remain legally in power, calls for very extraordinary developments or the descending of too unbearable hardships on the lives of people. It does not seem that unacceptable or unbearable conditions exist in Bangladesh for the opposition to bypass the constitution and engage in revolutionary politics to unseat an elected government in power. For its leaders now to employ unconventional tactics to dislodge the incumbents in power and when their own records in governance was not decisively better, amounts to hypocrisy.
It should be high time for chamber leaders and all others concerned to voice their opinion about the economic costs to be incurred as fall-outs from the impending political storm. Chamber leaders must not be content issuing statements in newspapers about the losses to their enterprises and the economy from fresh political instability. They should be rather out in the field mobilizing public opinion against the same and sitting across the table with the political personalities to impress on them the self defeating course of realizing political ambitions by clobbering the economy in the process.