Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Saturday, March 28, 2015, Chaitra 14, 1421 BS, Jamadius Sani 6, 1436 Hijr

Is Begum Zia above any accountability?
Syed Badrul Ahsan
Published : Saturday, 28 March, 2015,  Time : 10:22 AM,  View Count : 47
It is time for Begum Khaleda Zia to return to fair politics. She has been away from it for an inordinately long time. It is simply not proper or acceptable that an individual who was part of the democratic movement waged against autocracy in the 1980s and early 1990s and who has been prime minister twice should position herself in circumstances that can only raise questions about her future and the future of the party she happens to lead.
Last month, Begum Zia decided not to visit the Central Shaheed Minar on Ekushey to pay respects to the martyrs of the Language Movement of 1952. That lapse on the part of the leader of a major political party certainly raised eyebrows as well as a whole lot of questions. On Thursday, she  showed her obstinacy by refraining from visiting the National Memorial at Savar on the occasion of the Independence Day. That break with tradition has once more brought into the open some questions as also a good number of suspicions regarding the course she intends to pursue in the times ahead. Many questioned if she believed in the country?s independence how she refrained from visiting the Shaheed Minar and Saver Mausoleum.
One reason that has been given out by her fans to explain her failure to visit the Shaheed Minar and the National Memorial is that there was no guarantee that adequate security would be provided to her. The reason is as spurious as it is laughable. When the state ?- and this is the very state which Begum Zia once governed as prime minister ?- makes certain that all citizens, all the way from the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister down to the most common person, will enjoy security as they pay homage to those whose supreme sacrifices made country?s freedom possible, there is little cause to take Begum Zia?s security question seriously. What does look serious, though, is a sad image of the former prime minister quite unsure of the path she means to take to the future. But, yes, the one area where she is sure of herself is in her obstinate refusal to step back from her so-called blockade and hartal programmes.
The blockade is as good as non-existent; and hartals are conspicuous by its non-observance. There is usual movement all across Bangladesh. Where life has remained stagnant is in the precincts of the BNP Chairperson?s office in Gulshan. Many, wonder, how as a mother she did not visit the grave of her youngest son who died last month.
There are those in the BNP camp or close to it who have tried peddling the false idea that their leader is in confinement in her office. They have even managed to sell the idea to certain ill-informed, indeed ignorant media people abroad. It is a bad idea, one that Begum Zia should come out of. It is ruining her reputation. It has nearly forced her party to go comatose. And it has led to her party colleagues and workers being confused about the future of a political organization they have consistently been loyal to.
For Begum Zia, the thought these days ought to be one of restoring her place in national politics. She cannot go on being dictated to by her fugitive son Tarique Zia, a child who certainly has dented her image in no uncertain terms. In these past many months, in fact more than a year, Begum Zia has not listened to good counsel, not even from within her party. She orchestrated a violent campaign against the general election of 5 January 2014, an act in which she was assisted in no small measure by some journalists producing front page commentaries in newspapers in na?ve manner asking for a deferment of the election.  The Begum?s solidarity with the medieval outfit Hefazat-e-Islam in 2013 left gaping wounds on her party. And since early January this year, her dogged refusal to engage in politics and instead dabble in the anti-political and thereby the anti-constitutional has not exactly endeared her to the nation.
No citizen believing in democracy wishes to watch a major political party like the BNP die from self-inflicted wounds. Every politically conscious citizen desires to see a strong and vocal multi-party system at work in the country. No individual in this country, anyone who remembers the War of Liberation or has read about it, wants the BNP to remain hostage to a clearly predatory Jamaat-e-Islami. No BNP supporter wants Begum Zia to fade away as a politician.
And that is why it remains for Begum Khaleda Zia to step back a little, reflect on the wrong turnings she has taken along the road and try to recover the ground she has lost. Leaders do make mistakes. It is when they acknowledge those mistakes that they rise in the popular perception. Begum Zia owes it to herself, to her party, to her political constituency to reinvent herself.  She is also accountable to people for the killings of innocent people in petrol bomb throwing by her party activists on buses. Her programmes for blockade and hartal had caused colossal damage to national economy and disturbed the examinations of 1.5 million SSC candidate. She must answer to the nation for her wrong politics and ego.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka. Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone :9586651-58. Fax: 9586659-60, Advertisemnet: 9513663, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected].