Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Quicknote: Sidelining Reform, "Revolutionary" Elites Persist... for now

There is a notion, useful to the discussion of a country's early political history, that goes: the "revolutionary" leaders who led a country to independence are often themselves subject to a revolution. To put it simply, the revolutionary leaders are cast out.

It is not time for Bangladesh to undergo such a transition, though it seems to be coming. Late last week, the ruling Awami League held a national council the outcome of which saw five "reformists" dropped (New Nation). "Reformist" members of the BNP are still with the party, though they are concerned with their political futures considering what happened to their political adversaries (New Nation). At any rate, the BNP-reformers still have time to mull their position and decide a course of action, since the BNP national council probably won't occur before December 2009 (New Nation).

Friendly MPs from smaller parties have "exchanged pleasantries" with the recently sidelined Awami MPs and there are murmurs, regarding both groups, of floating new political parties. For their part, the reformers themselves have wisely not spoken directly on the subject as it is still much to early to discuss the establishment of two completely new political parties.

How does one best differentiate from two personality-driven political parties? That is fairly easy, discuss issues of concern and crush the culture of corruption and nepotism. The "reformers" are labelled as such because they were not adverse to the so-called "minus-two formula." This idea sought to remove both former Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia from politics altogether, and for a time (while they were both under house arrest on charges of corruption) it almost came to pass.

However, Bangladesh's return to parlimentary democracy is still too recent. When politics revert back to "normal:" the Opposition calling frequent hartals and refusing to take part in the Jatiya Sangsad, rampant killings of each other's supporters, and the co-opting of the groups like the Sarbaharas and militant Islamists - then perhaps the Bangladeshi electorate will decide that "enough is enough." For at this time, the old political parties will demonstrate that they really didn't learn anything from their two years exile from Parliament.

And at that point, the familial history of both venerable begums will not save their political careers.

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