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Kamal Hosen
Last weekend, a number of Jatiya Party (JP) nomination seekers brought allegations against JP President HM Ershad and general secretary (GS) Ruhul Amin Hawladar that JP president and GS had taken illegal money from the aspirants for giving them nomination. The news of huge graft allegations made the people of this country become alarmed over the real face of JP’s politics. Even though this allegation is not new for JP chairman and other top leaders of the party, as there were reports that Rowshan Ershad, wife of JP chairman HM Ershad, used to take a calculator on one hand to count the bribe money provided by businessmen during Ershad’s presidency. Considering that every rumour has some truth, the huge amount of money that the party’s top leaders have amassed so far might have been sourced from the bribery the grassroots leaders have provided every now and then.
Not only that, there are also allegations that nomination business is widespread in Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Political observers and analysts have alleged that nominating a whopping number of candidates (800) is not on a fear that most of the candidatures might be cancelled by Election Commission (EC); rather it is a means to satisfy all the nomination seekers who have bribed Tarique Zia. This argument has been justified to a larger extent by witnessing that around only 80 candidates of BNP and its alliance have been disqualified by EC to contest the upcoming election. Remember, there are around 720 candidates still left to contest for 300 parliamentary seats!
When a national election brings in a massive occasion for a political party to make an illegal income from the nomination seekers, one does not need to become an expert to know to what extent the party principles have eroded. It also puts a question of absolute gravity: what will the posterity of the country learn from such a rotten political culture within a party or two?
The true picture is portrayed when we turn eyes to the reality. On Wednesday last while putting agitation in front of JP chairman’s Banani office, quite a good number of JP nomination seekers complained that party chairman HM Ershad and GS Mr Hawladar took a huge sum of money on a guarantee that their names would be included on the final list before submitting it to EC. The disappointed accusers were seeking the top leaders to get back their money. At one stage, they locked up the main gate of the JP office. Reportedly, this issue has created huge criticisms within the party.
Even though JP GS Hawladar denied the allegation, some of the nominated candidates too acknowledged before journalists that they had to pay graft money to get the party nomination. Among them, incumbent JP member of parliament Showkat Chowdhury, from Nilphamary-4, alleged that he gave Tk 60 lakh to JP chairman and GS (Daily Amader Somoy, Daily Manab Zamin).
On Tuesday last, a post was shared on Facebook in the name of Showkat Chowdhury reading, “On a plea to give me nomination, Ershad has taken Tk 8 crore from me. Now he is nominating his nephew on my place. Ershad will have to pay the price once he comes to Nilphamari” (Daily Ittefaq). On the other hand, Bhairab upazila JP general secretary Nurul Quader, from Kishoreganj-6, also acknowledged that he gave money to the party while alleging that the party top leaders sell themselves to those who give money more than others (Daily Manab Zamin).
Kazi Mamunur Rashid, another nomination seeker from Brahmanbaria-5 (Nabinagar), put forward a couple of questions: “Why did they take money from us if we wouldn’t be given nomination? Why did they make us spend so much money (Daily Amader Somoy)?” Gazi Obaidul Quader Mojnu, from Gazipur-5, said he had paid Tk 22,000 instead of Tk 20,000 for nomination paper and claimed that he had been asked to pay another Tk 1 crore in bribe. He questioned the leadership of Ershad (bdnews24.com).
With only three weeks to go before the national election, these allegations have certainly overwhelmed the party, and its chain of command has completely broken down as there is none to take any responsibility to respond to these accusations.
However, the entire issue of nomination business, both by JP and BNP led Oikyafront, requires an independent probe, and if they are found responsible for developing such a culture which is damaging for the country’s national politics, they accordingly should be brought before justice. It’s a serious criminal offence and no conscious person should put up with it.