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Shake Hasina or stop Khaleda? India’s horribly difficult election in Bangladesh

MBI Munshi

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By abhijit majumder

On December 16, 1971, defeated commanding officer of the Pakistani armed forces Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi signed the Instrument of Surrender at Dhaka’s Ramna Race Course. Sitting like a patient predator beside him, lieutenant general Jagjit Singh Aurora, joint commander of the Indian and Bangladeshi forces, watched the ink dry on the historic document.
India had helped Bangladesh out of Pakistan’s clutches into freedom.

Exactly 47 years later as Bangladesh goes to polls on Sunday, December 30, India is not sure what it should help free Bangladesh from: A widely unpopular Sheikh Hasina government, or the possibility of a traditionally problematic Khaleda regime? An Awami League (AL) which is increasingly seen as corrupt, autocratic and arrogant, or a Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which has traditionally been corrupt and hostile towards India? An AL which is brazenly flirting with China and dubious money, or a BNP which sleeps with the Islamist Jamaat and pings the ISI?

A fickle friend?
Hasina has been India’s best bet. She went after the 1971 war criminals and Islamists, presided over a period of undeniably rapid economic growth and development, and has been friendly with India and blunt about Pakistan’s policy of exporting terror in the neighbourhood.

But at home, she is believed to have allowed extensive corruption top down, surrounded herself with political amateurs and sycophants, and resorted to gratuitous use of force to quell dissent. In the last one year, smouldering public anger turned wildfire over seemingly mundane issues like reservations and road safety.

Protesting little children were brutalised and an international photographer jailed over an interview by a paranoid government, rapidly pulling down the regime’s already sagging popularity.

The more its image got smudged, the more desperate steps the Hasina government has taken. The same Hasina who determinedly hung ’71 war criminals, dismantled the Jamaat-run Islami Bank and hunted down killers of the Holey Artisan Bakery terror attack has also bowed to the mullahs of Hefazat-e-Islam and has now given about 30 Jamaat-leaning candidates tickets for the election, according to agencies.

China is believed to have pumped in 3,000 crore taka in the election as well, priming up mostly AL candidates. The benevolence of Chinese money lasts as long as its goods. The dragon quickly demands returns with disproportionate interest, as Pakistan and Sri Lanka know at their peril.

Most importantly, India and PM Narendra Modi’s image has taken a hit in Bangladesh as friend Hasina’s popularity kept slipping. Many see India as propping up a regime against people’s wishes.

Or a friendlier foe?
The BNP has always been closer to Pakistan. But this time around, its senior-most leaders have made overtures to India. Some of them have been openly hosted and regaled in New Delhi.

Sensing a surge in public support, Indian agencies are in touch with a number of BNP candidates who are relatively pro-India. But this is on a case-by-case basis, hedging for the distinct possibility of a regime change if a free and fair election happens.

But India loathes the possibility of a BNP regime where an emboldened Jamaat’s writ runs on the eastern front, and Rohingya terrorists and infiltrators alike find a free corridor from Myanmar to Bangladesh into India.

From Muhammad Yunus of the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation which had training camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar to the Karachi-born Ata Ullah of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, Myanmar terrorist leaders have had deep links with Jamaat, sometimes even through marriage and family.

India does not want these groups to get oxygen from a Jamaat-friendly regime, besides a revival of Bangladesh’s own homegrown terror groups.

Also, many seniors in the Indian foreign office and intelligence establishment personally dislike Tarique Rahman, the flamboyant son of Zia who is in exile facing assassination attempt charges. With him, you get the ‘not-a-good-human-being’ feeling, they say.

They say when Hasina went to meet Zia after the latter had suffered a personal tragedy, Tarique’s instruction over a phone call stopped his mother mid-stairs from greet the PM. This led to a bitterness that hasn’t healed till date.

A third force?
Kamal Hossain, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s fellow freedom fighter and now the Jatiya Oikya Front chief, has got into an alliance with the BNP. He is a lawyer and who once had the gumption of accusing his colleague and friend Bangabandhu of “too much optimism…sometimes you may have put more faith in people than the situation demands”. Today, he accuses Mujibur Rahman’s daughter of much worse.

But he is 82 and not a grassroots politician. Former President Hussain Muhammad Ershad’s Jatiya Party (JP) is domestically seen as AL’s B-team. He is 88, and India sees him as prone to U-turns and without a clear succession plan.

Besides, India backing him too strongly might result in JP still falling short of majority but eating into AL’s votes, weakening Hasina further.

Most importantly, India doesn’t believe in a ‘Minus Two’ formula –– taking the two bibis, Hasina and Zia, out of the equation. Any alternative government will be weak to deal with Bangladesh’s considerable problems and may plunge the country into further chaos, and tempt the military to meddle again.

Who's India’s best bet?
Seven months before Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated, Indian spy chief Rameshwar Nath Kao had personally warned him about the plot. Bangabandhu had shrugged it off with a smile, "They are my own children; they won't harm me."

His daughter Hasina has also ignored several caveats from India about her actions and growing unpopularity. India still stands firmly behind her, although wisely keeping a door open for any other emergent force in our tumultuous eastern neighbourhood.

The general feeling in Indian diplomatic circles seems to be “Hasina has to win, although we know how to handle things if BNP comes to power”.

They admit that given how emotions — so crucial in an election — are running currently, the Opposition may sweep if free and fair elections are held.

They also believe the elections are unlikely to be above board. Ghosts will almost surely cast votes and also stop many from voting.

Will India send observers?
“No. We already have enough ‘observers’ in Bangladesh,” comes the smiling reply.

https://www.mynation.com/views/bjp-...-results-7-reasons-factors-results2018-pjkiut
 

bluesky

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They admit that given how emotions — so crucial in an election — are running currently, the Opposition may sweep if free and fair elections are held.
@UKBengali, @Homo Sapiens: opinion, please!! The Opposition may sweep, this is why you and your BCL caders are running amock bullying, beating and torturing people into submission. BAL activities are worse than Pakistan time Muslim League activities. Another Liberation War is needed to get rid of BAL/BCL Complex.
 

Nilgiri

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@UKBengali, @Homo Sapiens: opinion, please!! The Opposition may sweep, this is why you and your BCL caders are running amock bullying, beating and torturing people into submission. BAL activities are worse than Pakistan time Muslim League activities. Another Liberation War is needed to get rid of BAL/BCL Complex.
Best of luck to the BD patriot people! They should not just sit down and be calm!
 

American Pakistani

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How sad how even elections of Bangladesh are fielded by indians and now even chinese.. what a “democracy”.
No matter what, they will always remain under the thumb of India. India is just too huge for them. No wonder why some of these clowns were suggesting on the other thread that Pakistan should act as Bangladesh and forget about everything and bow down to India...:woot::lol:
 

Nilgiri

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No matter what, they will always remain under the thumb of India. India is just too huge for them. No wonder why some of these clowns were suggesting on the other thread that Pakistan should act as Bangladesh and forget about everything and bow down to India...:woot::lol:
Shush you! :P BD has great chance here for true liberation and independence and sticking it to evil Dada! Dont derail!!!
 

Pakistansdefender

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Yeah yeah we know its Indian's choice that matters and world is running on the decisions made in new Delhi.
You don't need to remind us mere mortals again and again.
You have already planted Donald trump, putin, macron in their places where they can do your bidding. Yes we know that. Does a country like Bangladesh even matter to Indians.
Sure a junior officer at raw would decide and that lucky person would be Bangladesh's next president.

You should look for people who are willing to merge Bangladesh and India to form a union.
 

Atlas

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They should support a woman who attacks road safety protestors
Or they should support a woman who once declared hartal without reason in the name of democratic movement full 2013 . And later in 2014 and 2015 movement was even extreme that weekly 6 days hartal ( specially bus strike , clossing all shops in Bangladesh , kicking the belly of poor ) except friday , and if any bus for total 4/5 months in 2014 , and 3 month in 2015 . She stopeed after the death of her younger son .
In those strikes countless peoples died , because of petrol bomb terrorism . She was in no compromised mood .
Perhaps after her son's death she realized that every mother feel the same pain when their children died in petrol bomb terrorism
.

And since then BNP is tamed like a pet dog and now the first woman (mother of petrol bomb terrorist ) is too eager to take part in the election under the unholy Al govt . I am amazed why they boycotted and killed peoples in 2014 then , if they decided to take part this time under the same govt ? Today court will decide if the first woman ( khaleda) can participate in election or not . So what is the point of killing peoples in the name of movement of democracy ?

So indeed bengalis will have to choose between the two women , as we have no other alternative .
Now I will let our compatriots choose between few months hammer treatment and 3 years petrol bomb treatment .

Will be waiting for our well wishers that what they want us to choose between the mother of petrol bomb terrorism and threat of civil war that can break Bangladesh in to two . Or the attacker of protestors ,who were protesting even after the process of solving the issue .

One sided view is always harmful for society . We do not want to accept a fact that there is another side of coin that most peoples don't see.
 
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Hakikat ve Hikmet

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As if BD has a choice to begin with...

The Last Muslim Army is long gone.....

BD's PM is equivalent to a part-time cook at the Indian Presidential Palace....

BD folks are one of the happiest people in the world....
 

Zibago

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Or they should support a woman who once declared hartal without reason in the name of democratic movement full 2013 . And later in 2014 and 2015 movement was even extreme that weekly 6 days hartal ( specially bus strike , clossing all shops in Bangladesh , kicking the belly of poor ) except friday , and if any bus for total 4/5 months in 2014 , and 3 month in 2015 . She stopeed after the death of her younger son .
In those strikes countless peoples died , because of petrol bomb terrorism . She was in no compromised mood .
Perhaps after her son's death she realized that every mother feel the same pain when their children died in petrol bomb terrorism
.

And since then BNP is tamed like a pet dog and now the first woman (mother of petrol bomb terrorist ) is too eager to take part in the election under the unholy Al govt . I am amazed why they boycotted and killed peoples in 2014 then , if they decided to take part this time under the same govt ? Today court will decide if the first woman ( khaleda) can participate in election or not . So what is the point of killing peoples in the name of movement of democracy ?

So indeed bengalis will have to choose between the two women , as we have no other alternative .
Now I will let our compatriots choose between few months hammer treatment and 3 years petrol bomb treatment .

Will be waiting for our well wishers that what they want us to choose between the mother of petrol bomb terrorism and threat of civil war that can break Bangladesh in to two . Or the attacker of protestors ,who were protesting even after the process of solving the issue .

One sided view is always harmful for society . We do not want to accept a fact that there is another side of coin that most peoples don't see.
Statement is similar to the one used by Indian COAS equating stones with bullets
 

Atlas

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Statement is similar to the one used by Indian COAS equating stones with bullets
First our friends need to use a petrol bomb and jump into the fire , and then decide what is better . Jumping in to fire , or oppressing opposition . But I do not think that you can decide , as you need to jump in to fire before that . Only then they will understand that what is stone and what is bullet .:-)

There is a poetry in bengali and that is ," chirosukhijon vrome ki kokhon bathito bedon bujhite pare ...."

The short meaning of the long poetry is , no one can have slightest feeling , or idea , even mistakenly , the pain of real victims .

@Zibago read that new part .
 
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Zibago

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First use a petrol bomb and jump into the fire , and then decide what is better . Jumping in to fire , or opressing opposition . But I do not think that you can decide , as you need to jump in to fire before that :-)
Yes yes we remember what bjp said about slingshots in Kashmir but its not for us to decide what Bangladesh wants they want a dictatorship they should have it
 

Atlas

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but its not for us to decide what Bangladesh wants they want a dictatorship they should have it
Indeed not @Zibago I agree with you .But peoples who claim to be our well wishers ( anyone ) also take it in a consideration that they never faced such condition, or never lived in BD or never even visited BD.

Equating with BJP and Jamat , is easy . And it's a cheap trick in Bangladesh anyway . As Bangladesh is already divided with this issue . I just want our peoples to be freed from such one sided self destructive point of view!
 
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Homo Sapiens

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@UKBengali, @Homo Sapiens: opinion, please!! The Opposition may sweep, this is why you and your BCL caders are running amock bullying, beating and torturing people into submission. BAL activities are worse than Pakistan time Muslim League activities. Another Liberation War is needed to get rid of BAL/BCL Complex.
I have told you not to tag me in such thread. And given a long replay in response to you tagging explaining my position in previous thread. Perhaps you have not read that, Read it now.After reading it, if you tag me in any other such thread than you are a shameless motha facka.

Now read fully-

@bluesky you should stop tagging me again and again in such threads to tease. I have not much interest in politics and I do not identify strongly with any political party. And certainly do not wish AL coming to power again by vote rigging. I believe, there is no good option for us to choose, only bad and worse. AL is a bad option, BNP-Jamat is worse. I only wished one or two times here that, it would be comparatively better for Bangladesh if AL continue for next 5 years with a slim majority in parliament with a fair poll. Only a slim majority with vibrant opposition party in the parliament will reduce AL's autocratic tendency and heavy handed approach to BNP-Jamat. But fair poll seems unlikely. In that case people have to resist.

I rarely think about politics, and I challenge you to find 10 post in the last 2 years where I said AL should comes to power. But you have turned into a Crusader for BNP-Jamat here. I am not a political cannon fodder like you. So you should stop this bullshit of tagging me in your political crusade here in PDF.

I have several reason to believe, it would be a better option if AL continue rather than BNP-Jamat coming to power after next election.

Firstly, Security of Bangladesh may compromised if BNP-Jamat comes to power. In their previous term, they turned Bangladesh into a sanctuary of Islamist terrorists, foreign agents, anti-India rebels. Thus jeopardised Bangladesh's reputation and stability. Have you forget the co-ordinated 500 bomb blast in all 64 districts in 2005? But AL is stern against violent Islamist militants and people are confident that, at least AL will never tolerate Islamic extremism in Bangladesh.

Secondly, Our economy may slow down. It is obvious from the previous record of BNP-Jamat that they will stop many of development project both for the civilian and military uses undertaken by current AL. Previously they decommissioned brand new Ulsan class frigate and cancelled mig-29 order, even tried to sell the 8 Mig-29 already brought, just because these were purchased by AL. I suspect, if BNP comes to power, Padma bridge project will put into limbo, so are Metro Rail project for Dhaka and many other things. because these projects were undertaken by AL and BNP will not get credit finishing those.

Thirdly, BNP-Jamat are not better skilled than AL managing the economy. they have no vision for country, nor any planning. Previously during their 5 years terms, they did not add a single megawatt power to national grid. Bangladesh was top corrupt country in the world straight 5 times by TI index during their rule. GDP growth average was lower than previous 5 years of AL rules. I fear slow down of the economy from the current high gear and increase corruption if they return.

Fourthly, there is no guarranty that, BNP-Jamat will be any less repressive than current AL if they get the chance. AL is currently employing a heavy handed approach to suppress BNP-Jamat and prominent dissenting voices. But during BNP-Jamat's rule it tried to kill Sheikh Hasina and top AL leadership by using Islamist militants. Grenade attack in 2004 and killing of Shah AMS Kibria and some of other top AL leaders then happened. AL at least is not trying to murder top BNP leadership by grenade attack by now. So you can not claim that, BNP-Jamat is better than AL and practise better democracy.

Fifthly, I can not tolerate the sight of stupid and Matric fail Khaleda representing Bangladesh as a PM. And her son Tareq chora returning triumphant from London to Bangladesh to run his previous corruption business again. BNP need new leadership past behind this two thugs.
 
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