July 19, 2007

Mrs. Zia Wakes Up and Smells the History

It's official, but Mrs. Khaleda Zia has recognised Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a "national leader". It's a start, one might say. After a 21-step program, we might even get her to say "Bongo" without biting her tongue. "Bondhu" after that is too much for my cynical imagination.

Three blogger reactions: ShadaKalo has pretty much summarised my own reaction to this piece of news. What neither s/he nor I can capture in mere words is the tremendous amount of disgust that decent people - AL-ers and BNP-ers alike - feel when we hear her talk about a "national leader" on whose death anniversary she contrived to celebrate her imaginary birthday.

Less emotional reactions focus more on the rest of the statement. Rumi Ahmed ponders what the nuanced, politically correct yet straightforward tone of the statement signals about Mrs. Zia's situation. And here you will find the legal and cynical brooding of Saif of Addafication.


Rumi said...


As I mentioned earlier, Khaleda Zia in fact never indulged in derogatory or disrespectful gesture towards Bangabandhu.
After first becoming prime minister, Khaleda Zia, took the highest civil and military protocol to pay respect to Bangabandhu at his grave at Tongipara. As the leader of parliament in both her opening speeches, she mentioned Bangabandhu as a respected national leader. During the last couple of years of her 10 years direct rule and 5 more years in close proximity of the then ruler the only gesture derogatory to Bangabandhu that can be atrtributed to her was her birthday on the 15th august. That was distasteful. She should have stopped the celebration or cake etc being arranged by the over enthusiastic leaders and workers.

asif said...

Rumi bhai,

Koyek din ektu busy chilaam, so the late response. Bhai, Zia'r shomoyer kotha baad i dilaam, but her own 10 years haven't been the best. Yes, she did mention Mujib in her speeches, and I vaguely recall her visiting his grave.

The fact still remains that it was under her that the state TV channel (at one time, the only tv channel)/radio station would not issue programs about Mujib. Not the idolising, fawning programs of the AL era, but any program. Further, text books were altered (I need to do a comparison for myself, so correct me if I'm wrong there) to diminish/erase Mujib's role in our politics. Lastly, if she wanted to she could have stopped the "cake" party. That was the most offensive part of it all to me for the last few years. I know you yourself have written about it on DP and how offensive it was to all of us.

None of which is to say that past grudges should preclude future cooperation. If I said so, I would be part of our national problem instead of asking for a solution:). I hope Mrs. Hasina/AL find it in their hearts to thank her for her statement/return the favour. I agree with your assessment about the rest of the statement, which is indeed very, very balanced and nuanced, neither challenging the CTG too little or too much. Shows she is getting some good help as you said. It's just really frustrating for a lot of us that none of this couldn't come by sooner when it might have made a difference!

Let's wait and see how this plays out.

rumi said...

This line seals it all Asif...

"None of which is to say that past grudges should preclude future cooperation. If I said so, I would be part of our national problem instead of asking for a solution:). "

There was problem in the past, but we ought not to cling to that memory to destroy any future hope. My point-- There was good stroke of play in the game of politics. Let's cheer it and encourage further such good game. Will you boo someone's good game because he played bad shot all the last 10 innings? :)

here is what I had to say about Khaleda Zia's birthday on the 15th august.


rumi said...

Somehow the link got messed up... lets try again..


or this link...


Jyoti said...

Hasina trash-talked Zia in a high-profile speech in 1991 and lost an election. And Hasina's attitude hadn't changed until recently. But Khaleda's attitude got much worse as the years went by - the first time the birthday issue arose was in 1996, and in the following 10 years, people who councelled Khaleda against this met Dr B Chowdhury's fate.

Rumi bhai,

You truly are in the middle of nowhere when it comes to Bangladeshi politics. If you were in the corridors of power during the 2nd Khaleda government, do you think you would have been allowed to speak your mind like this?

asif said...

Jyoti bhai,

You have pin-pointed exactly why I value Rumi bhai's opinion so much! In Bangladesh, in the middle of nowhere is where the best people find themselves, at least in the corridors of power. Still we ask ourselves almost existentially, "Why are we not 'developing'???":)