It doesn’t matter that Hero Alam lost by less than a thousand votes to a JSD candidate supported by the ruling party. Not many people know Tansen (JSD) outside his area but Hero Alam is a national figure, like it or not. He had a serious encounter with the law enforcers a few months back when police hauled him in and told him not to sing certain songs. His stocks rose more after that.
This scolding for singing is possible only in Bangladesh where the police are better as music critics than catching thieves and other assorted criminals. Hero Alam does many other things and was up and running after a few weeks of slowing down. And then he went for elections. After a lot of drama over his nomination seeking, he finally managed to make it to the polls.
What his running mean
His election was covered by national media but the serious and shushil media never paid much attention to him as a proper candidate. He was a “clown” candidate. But then it’s inevitable. Hero Alam is neither shushil nor a political elite. That means neither AL or the BNP and their underlings. Like it or not, Hero Alam belongs to the people much more than conventional politicians do.
Some people of the “serious” type may see him as a joke but he is not so to the voters as the numbers show. And that is the problem for many. The establishment can’t tolerate him but the people can. And that is why he nearly won. Or maybe as Hero Alam has said, “he was made to lose.”
Some in the Opposition are saying that it was a fixed election and shows that EVMs are all under the control of the EC and all that. But the Opposition are no different from the ruling party because they have their own shushil brigade and Hero Alam is just not that.
The rise of the underclass as politicians
BD politics is run by shushils and politicians, basically the middle and upper class alliance. And Hero Alam is not that. He belongs to that segment of society which has emerged after 1971, the vast rural sea. The “crudeness” of his cultural behavior shocks many because it’s so “peasanty” , uppity if you will. He has no “sophistication”, no “slickness” and his Tagore songs are not like swans in a swoon. But that’s what he is and without fear. He signifies the growing strength of the underclass which is very established economically and is now knocking on the doors of the ruling class. There should be many reasons to feel anxious when he has come so close.
Hero Alam’s victory would have been too much and prayers are being said in appropriate places that he failed. He may also have been forcibly failed, as the candidate has said. Media reports that there was a Hero Alam wave among the voters. But that’s another matter. What matters is that he has arrived and there is a definite sign that the underclass is finally putting pressure on the traditional conventional ruling class .