Monday, July 9, 2012

Sohel Taj’s resignation leaves AL faced with unpleasant questions

THE long-drawn saga of Tanjim Ahmed’s resignation as a member of parliament finally came to a close, with the speaker of the ninth Jatiya Sangsad accepting his resignation letter on Saturday and subsequently declaring the Gazipur 4 seat vacant when the parliamentary session resumed on Sunday. Tanjim, popularly known as Sohel Taj, also resigned as the state minister for home affairs on May 31, 2009 nearly five months into the tenure of the Awami League-Jatiya Party government. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Monday, he announced on Sunday his decision not to be ‘active in politics’ but to do his best ‘for the welfare of the country and its people.’ While he insists that he has resigned ‘willingly’ and ‘for valid reasons’, without quite specifying the reasons, his comments, in the aftermath of his resignation as the state minister and now, as reported in the media, tend to indicate that he may not have been allowed to work to his satisfaction. On Sunday, for example, he said, ‘When I thought I was unable to keep the commitments I made to the people with the constrained authority, I willingly resigned because I did not embark on politics for position or power.’

Whatever may have been actual reason, Tanjim’s resignation looks to be part of a pattern that has emerged over two generations. It is pertinent to recall here that his father, the late Tajuddin Ahmed, the war-time prime minister who, in the absence of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the undisputed leader of the final phase of the nation’s struggle for independence, practically gave political leadership to the war of independence in 1971, was dropped from the Sheikh’s cabinet. Tajuddin’s younger brother, Afsar Uddin Ahmed Khan, who was the state minister for housing and public works, too, was made to leave his position after a short stint. Tanjim’s mother, Syeda Zohra Tajuddin, had also faded into political oblivion much before she was afflicted with old-age complications. Simply put, since independence, the top leadership of the Awami League has been, and may still be, disinclined to the idea of the Taj family having an organic involvement with the party.

In any case, Tanjim’s resignation, especially given the twists and turns it had to go through, thanks to the caprice of the AL leadership, leaves the ruling party faced with some unpleasant questions. His assertion that, as a minister and lawmaker, he was ‘unable to keep the commitments’ he had ‘made to the people’, which, according to him, were to fight ‘corruption, irregularities and mismanagement’, certainly casts the AL-Jatiya Party government in poor light. Moreover, Tanjim’s resignation looks set to be viewed as a result of the unfavourable relations that the top leadership of the Awami League has had with the Taj family since independence. In the end, the post-independence AL leadership could go down in history as having stood in the way of the development of an organic relationship between the Awami League and the Taj family, which would be sad indeed.