The Bangladesh Nationalist Party clearly needs to free itself of Tarique Rahman. The reason is obvious. Of late, the absconding elder child of General Ziaur Rahman and Khaleda Zia has been busy mutilating Bangladesh's history in tones reminiscent of the Yahya Khan regime and its henchmen in 1971. This young man, an embarrassment for Bangladesh because of the bad name he gave his mother's already inept government between 2001 and 2006, has made it his mission of late to project himself as a historical revisionist through his "assessments" of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In his latest tirade against the Father of the Nation, he has attempted, without an iota of shame, to portray Bangabandhu as "Pakbandhu". After all, asks this would-be politician, didn't Sheikh Mujibur Rahman go away to Pakistan even as Bengalis plunged into the War of Liberation?
Naivete is excusable. Villainy is not. This calculated move by a nearly fifty year-old man to peddle newer lies to the country only reveals the ignorance which underlies his thinking. He forgets that it was his father who announced, on 27 March 1971, Bangladesh's independence on behalf of Bangabandhu. He forgets too that it was in the government of the man he now condemns from the safe confines of exile as "Pakbandhu" that Ziaur Rahman served as deputy chief of army staff. He papers over the truth of his parents' family troubles being resolved by Bangabandhu in the early days of 1972. Tarique Rahman, senior vice chairman of his parents' political organization, perhaps has not read his father's article in the weekly Bichitra in 1972, where Zia effusively paid tribute to the Father of the Nation and stated in unambiguous terms that Bangladesh's freedom had been achieved under Bangabandhu's leadership. Tarique Rahman, in his selective amnesia or sinister reading of history, does not tell his audience that his father was part of the central committee of Baksal, that he did not resign in protest from his position in the army, that he did not emulate General Osmany, who had the courage to walk away from parliament once Baksal came to pass.
Tarique Rahman does not know that he is destroying his parents' party by resorting to a misrepresentation of history's truisms. He has not studied the history of 1971. He does not know that in the eyes of General Yahya Khan, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a traitor to the cause of Pakistan. He is unaware of the background to the Agartala conspiracy case, does not know that the man he denigrates as "Pakbandhu" was accused number one in what was then given out as a conspiracy to have East Pakistan secede from the rest of Pakistan. He has little idea of the political struggle which led to the making of the Six Points in 1966.
And this is the man the BNP would like to foist on the country as a future leader! When men of colossal ignorance aspire to political leadership, they bring shame on themselves and embarrassment to the nation. When other men, those with reputations of understanding history, kowtow before pretenders to self-serving political dynasties, they push the nation further into the woods. Which is why it now becomes necessary for the BNP, for those who have long propagated and practised its politics, to decide between saving their party and upholding the son of the general and the begum.
Politics is not nonsense. It is never the forte of the corrupt. And history regularly punishes those who play truant with it. The BNP would do well to remember this cardinal lesson. It will do better to have Tarique Rahman stay away from anything that has to do with history.