Once peoples’ representatives, particularly political leaders were the persons who were followed by others. When we were school students, they were our idols and philosophers. In fact, they possessed those qualities to be followed. They were not only sensitive and conscious personalities, they were honest and helpful. They had the mentality to serve the people and the country. They were the voice of the society. So, they were respected by all. However, there were also dishonest political people, but a very few; we could easily count them. They were disliked by the people, even if it was not openly.In late 1960s, I had the opportunity to see Dr. Golam Mowla (died in 1967), who was the President of Madaripur Sub-division Awami League as well as a Member of the National Assembly during Pakistan time. I must mention that he was a 1952 Language Movement hero. I had also the opportunity to have the affection of Mr. Aminul Islam (Danesh), who was elected as the Member of the Parliament of our area in 1970 election as well as elections after our independence. They were not only honest in monetary terms, but were also honest in their professions as well as in politics. They had the opportunities to be financially gainful, but they never did that. We had not heard any incident of corruption about them.
I went to the house of Mr. Aminul Islam at Rampura, Dhaka during 1980s a number of times. That time, I had also come to know that Dr. Golam Mowla had a small land there. In fact, they had purchased the land together long before when that was an agricultural land. It is beyond my understanding why they did not wish to get any plot at Dhanmondi, Banani, Gulshan, or other places; or, why the government of Bangladesh did not give them plots in those areas. I do not have any idea whether they had not enough money to buy government plots or they were not, at all, interested in buying any as they have already one (though it was not at a posh area).
We may find hundreds of such examples of the politicians of those days. They had the mental set up to serve the people, the country. Being the representatives of the people, they understood that they were elected by the people to look after peoples’ interest and welfare, not their own interest. They were not eager for wealth. They thought themselves as one of their people who would represent them to place their demands to the government. They were the caretakers, not the grabbers. They never thought to be millionaire.
But where are those days, where are the politicians of those stature? The wind, perhaps, has changed its direction. After getting political power, a politician, nowadays, uses that power to get benefits for himself forgetting the welfare of the general mass. These are now regular matters in the politics of Bangladesh. It is not affecting only the politicians, but also the ideology of politics and in turn people lose confidence in political parties. Though such politicians are one day lost from the people or politics, however, the country and the people suffer.
Our general understanding that the politicians are the people to whom the important and noble responsibility of running the country is given. Any deviation from this would make the country and its people suffer. But, at the same time, their activities could make their own party’s image, in one way brighter and praiseworthy, or in other way discreditable, to the society. Not only they should be sincere and honest in performing their responsibilities but their behaviour is expected to be ideal and exemplary to others. And for that, the responsibility ultimately goes on the shoulder of the leadership of the political party they belong.
We found, at least, in books that people enjoy the benefits of politics due to the politicians. But, how much benefits people can expect from the derailed politicians? How people’s morality would sustain seeing the immoral characters of a section of politicians? We agree that the motives or activities of politicians to a certain extent should remain within the acceptability range of the people. But once it crosses that range, the ultimate blame goes on to the political parties. Are the political parties ready to spare those people? The party leaders should understand that allowing such activities, they would, in fact, make politics weaker and create mistrust among the people and the political party.People believe that our law enforcement agencies know all of the activities, some of which are coming out from the darkness nowadays. They are so efficient that they know who is doing what and where, not only in Dhaka city, but also in each and every corner of Bangladesh. These casino or gambling matters might be smaller issues than others, those we have yet to know. However, we fail to convince ourselves that our law enforcement agencies could not unearth these activities well before, as these establishments did not grow in a day or two.
These people, riding on powerful shoulders, have always been doing corruption and other unlawful activities. People know, but nobody listen to them. Our people, once authorised their power to the politicians, have become powerless. They are afraid of these few people, who, actually, are in the control of the steering. The general mass would only remain as silent spectators and the accomplices of the politicians would continue their operations, putting the blame on the party. But, how long we have to wait to see a change?
I would like to conclude my writing by quoting a few lines from the article titled “Imperative of Peace and Justice”, written by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, published in an Indian journal “The Contemporary” in December 1974, “I would like to reaffirm my faith in the indomitable spirit of man – in the capacity of the people to achieve the impossible and to overcome insurmountable odds. This is the faith which sustains nations like us which have emerged through struggle and sacrifice. Our nations may suffer, but they can never die in facing the challenge of survival, the resilience and determination of the people is an ultimate strength. Our goal is self-resilience; our chosen path is the united and collective efforts of our peoples. International cooperation and the sharing of resources and technology could no doubt make our task less onerous and reduce the cost in human suffering. But, for us in the emerging world, ultimately we must have faith in ourselves, in our capacity through the united and concerted efforts of our peoples to fulfil our destiny and to build for ourselves a better future.”
We should not forget that we fought for the independence of our beloved country Bangladesh. It is our expectation that our politicians would be much sensible and careful in safeguarding the interest of the people and the country as their predecessors did. I would like to request our politicians to study the lives of those politicians who were in their place three/four decades back. Even, today, they might find some of their honest and unavaricious colleagues. We really feel the absence of those politicians. Do our political parties have such intentions to encourage their members in this regard?
We are proud that we have a Prime Minister like Sheikh Hasina. She has the courage to eliminate all these odds and make a better future for us. We assure her that the whole nation is with her, always.
The writer is a former Ambassador and Secretary