Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Is there a role for Dr. Yunus to end political chaos?

Once again Prof Mohammad Yunus became a global media headline recently following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s proposal to make Nobel Laureate Prof. Yunus as the President of the World Bank (WB). She made the proposal to a visiting delegation of the European Parliament when it called on her. Asked if he would be interested in the position, Yunus politely declined the offer. 
What became a widely talked about subject is the sudden change of heart of Sheikh Hasina who was known to be hostile towards him as a result of which Yunus was forced to quit the post of the managing director of Grameen Bank which he founded.
People generally believe that a man like Dr Yunus may have a role to play a constructive role in the country’s politics, no matter if he has declined to accept the WB presidency now or in the past when President Bill Clinton had offered him the post, as he disclosed it last week.   

He said he has also declined a proposal of the former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia to agree to become a candidate for the UN Secretary General in 2005 when the post was open to the Asian countries. Dr Yunus said he has also declined a proposal to become the WB Managing Director. 
But a role for him in the country’s politics may be a different thing and he had in fact set up a political party of his own in 2008 under the caretaker government hoping to bring a change to the country’s political culture and outlook. He had however withdrawn from the move as major political parties took him as a challenge branding him as a nominee of the donors’ community in Bangladesh politics. 
Now everything stands on a new reality. He proved himself to be not interested to serving the Western interest, except where it passes to his own ideals and imagination. As the Yunus issue has come to the fore, through the Prime Minister this time, his admirers believe that he may launch a social movement focused on bringing change to the country’s political future away from corruption and deepening chaos. He may ask support from the mainstream civil society organizations and the youths or take him to the major political parties as a think tank to work as an adviser to minimize their political differences on the way to a national consensus on major contentious issues. 
More precisely, Awami League may remain sceptical to his motive, but BNP and the major opposition may take his services to their advantage to reassess their major political stands on many issuers, especially with the external community and in many ways redefining politics in the domestic front.
BNP and other opposition is drawing increasing public support in recent time resulting largely from the repressive governance of the ruling 14-party coalition as it is perceived to be corrupt and subservient to Delhi compromising vital national interest. The opposition is holding its ‘Dhaka March’ on March 12 in the wake of the ruling party’s erosion to popularity bringing panic to the government on its very survival after this historic event in the capital next week when BNP and allies are planning to gather about 3 million supporters. 
But the question is what more BNP and the allies can give to the nation beyond a change of the regime. Awami League was able to pull down the BNP-led four party government on alleged charges of corruption. Now BNP and allies are working to bring down the Awami League-led government on the same charges of corruption and inefficiency of the government. 
But through this change of regime who are those people now expected to come back to power again. What will happen if the old corrupt and inefficient BNP leaders and their allies are back without a change in the political outlook and vision for a greater future? People are not just ready to see the old political bickering and bloodbath for yet another round of regime change. 
It raises the question what home work BNP and allies are doing to give the nation something new to bring it out of the chaotic situation. It requires a sound pragmatic leader or advisers around the party high command who may have the far-sight and the wisdom and the courage to put the bitter truth to the leadership even going against the mainstream political thinking. 
Former president Ziur Rahman remained unparalleled to the party leadership as no one so far could have out stepped him in vision and skill in running the state which he had pulled out from a totally demoralised and broken political structure in the country. 
Now this is a new situation and the changing reality shows the need for far-sighted leadership or the presence of highly esteemed persons to advise to the existing leadership to bring the nation out of the political cobweb to reunite it again and make sure it is not falling again in the hand of corrupt politicos.
Politics of ‘logi boitha’
Many people apprehend that Bangladesh may be going to the old politics of ‘logi boitha’ (ores and logs) meaning open air political killing which the nation witnessed on October 27, 2006 at Paltan intersection in the city. 
This time as the pre-election political scenario, there is a growing apprehension that the nation may witness similar bloodbath at more places throughout the country. It may lead the nation towards yet another unconstitutional takeover, which many observers believe may be a pro-government move to deny the opposition a chance to fight a free and fair election towards assuming power.    
This is a time for far-reaching political strategy and involvement of far-sighted persons are important in the political process which can effectively negotiate with external powers in the interest of preserving and building a better foundation of democracy in the country.
The major opposition BNP should therefore try to secure closer relation with Dr Yunus, a growing section of people now believe, allowing him an influential role within the party or from outside to give it the critical political inputs which may support better decision making in the first place and protect it from falling into the hand of corrupt elements again if and when it may be able to form a government. 
Prof Yunus has consistently declined to serve global agencies, but since Bangladesh stands closer to his heart and as the lone Nobel Laureate of the nation for working for the poor, he may take it as part of his natural duty to help the nation coming out of the political chaos. If the country exploits his development strategy, it may quickly progress with inflow of FDI and a rebound in domestic sector. A better future demand services from the best sons of the soil, and let us look forward to a good transition to better governance.
BY :   Faruque Ahmed.