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Shahnoor Wahid
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina deserves standing ovation for agreeing to sit with some close associates of killers who made several attempts to assassinate her in the past. Take for example, the presence of BNP at the dialogue table, despite the fact that its chairperson and her son had approved the bloody grenade attack on her in 2004 and also gave order for throwing petrol bombs on the public in 2014-15 killing numerous innocent passersby.
In many other ways, BNP with the help of Jamaat and other extremist elements, both at home and abroad, tried to halt the forward march of Sheikh Hasina in the past 10 plus years. BNP also observed fake birthday of its chairperson on 15 August when the entire nation prayed in silence for the assassinated Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Khaleda Zia did not hesitate to deeply hurt the sentiments of a large section of the people by cutting a cake at 12am every 15 August.
And yet, leaving her personal emotions aside, Sheikh Hasina sat with the representatives of BNP and exchanged greetings with them at Ganobhaban on Thursday. She has done it for the people, for the country and for democracy. What an example of generosity of spirit and political acumen! By organising the dialogue and inviting the rival political parties she has proved that she was not a petty politician but much more than that. She has become a statesman of towering stature and prominence. If we analyse the detailed proceedings of the two dialogues held so far, we can easily discern the vibe and vitality emanating in the presence of Sheikh Hasina in the room which immediately set the mood for cordial exchange of ideas and opinions regarding holding of the national elections in December.
With graceful composure and poise, the prime minister listened to the demands of the Jatiya Oikyafront and Jultofront on Thursday and Friday respectively and allowed her wisdom to play a big role here while replying to each query. The success of the dialogue and her role have been truly reflected when Dr Kamal Hossain said later during a press briefing that they may sit again with the PM and that it was not important who were in the election time government as long as the EC can organise a credible and participatory election.
Dr Kamal has been one of Hasina’s harshest critics all these years therefore his words carry more weight than those of others. In a knee-jerk reaction BNP said they were not happy with the dialogue but their comments got lost in the enthusiasm of the leaders and workers of the Oikyafront. They are happy and are looking forward to taking part in the upcoming election. Even Dr Badruddoza Chowdhury expressed his satisfaction at the way the dialogue on Friday was conducted and he left it with high hopes about his alliance taking part in the election.
Going back to Sheikh Hasina’s sitting with the leaders of a party that tried to kill her on many occasions, we can say with certainty that had it been other way round, that means, if Awami League leadership had ordered for the assassination of Khaleda Zia, BNP would never have invited AL leaders to Ganobhaban. Here lies the difference between a born politician and a by-chance politician.
It is interesting to note that politics of Bangladesh is now revolving around only one person – Sheikh Hasina. She is at the centre of the stage, under the spotlight, and others are playing their roles from the fringe. Through clever handling of the situation she could take full control of politics and it is expected that she keep a firm grip on it until the days of election arrive. Meanwhile we shall keep our eyes and ears open to discern what transpires from the next dialogues.