Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is observing 41 years of its coming into being. Long years if juxtaposed with the age of this republic named Bangladesh. The party came to power on three occasions and left behind an indelible legacy of misrule, mismanagement, immaturity, irresponsibility, conspiracy, trickery, deception and violence.
Today, no BNP lover will be able to point out a single project worth the name and say that it was done by us. On the other hand, series of bombing in 64 districts, surfacing of Bangla Bhai, attack on a meeting of Sheikh Hasina in Chittagong, murder of SHMS Kibria and Ahsanullah Master, attack on British High Commissioner, series of attempts on the life of Sheikh Hasina and finally the grenade attack on a Awami League meeting aimed at killing Sheikh Hasina in 2004 go to the credit of BNP and its leaders.
Tariq Zia ran a parallel administration and business hub in the infamous ‘Hawa Bhaban” defying the laws of the land. High government officials had to remain at his beck and call to divulge information on top secret matters. All international and national multi-million dollar projects had to go through ‘Hawa Bhaban.’
So, the question remains as to what BNP has celebrated on its founding day? The pro-people works of Babar? The nation-building works of Haris Chowdhury? Or the sacrifices made for the nation by Barrister Moudud Ahmed? Did they celebrate how Haris and Moudud had taken illegal possession of two luxurious abandoned houses in Gulshan when BNP came to power in 2001?
When the army took over power in 2006, hundreds of illegal expensive cars were found abandoned on the roads. Those belonged to BNP leaders and activists. Party MPs and chairmen tried to throw away all relief materials worth crores of takas stored in their houses.
In hindsight, we can see that the party had created a plethora of riddles that did more harm to it than good. But the top leaders had no idea how they were damaging the political party from inside. Yes, no outside force or political party did any harm to BNP.
But, if we want to talk on BNP and its paradoxes, we shall have to start right at the two misnomers existing in the very name of the party. One is ‘Bangladesh’ and the other is ‘Nationalist.’ Let us discuss in
details on these two aspects. Can a party that had given shelter to politicians who had opposed the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 and killed millions of Bangalees to stay with Pakistan, keep Bangladesh in its name? I mean is it not self contradictory? You hated to see the birth of a baby, but after it was born you want to own it!
This party shows no qualm when celebrating birthday on 15 August, the day the chief architect of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was brutally killed. Everyone knows that it is a false date chosen to express their envy and malice towards Bangabandhu, who is the quintessence of freedom. And yet they use Bangladesh in the party name.
They call themselves “Nationalist”. In what way the leaders of the party including its founder were involved in the 23-year long nationalist movement against Pakistan that resulted in the creation of the free, sovereign Bangladesh? There is no such history. One has to be involved for decades in organizing an oppressed nation; bring them under one banner and prepare them for the war of liberation. Bangabandhu had done exactly all these for 23 years before declaring on March 7, 1971 that ‘this time it was the fight for freedom.’
When the army took over power in 2006,
hundreds of illegal expensive cars were
found abandoned on the roads. Those belonged
to BNP leaders and activists. Party MPs and
chairmen tried to throw away all relief
materials worth crores
of takas stored in their houses
Where is the legacy of such work by any one in BNP? Did they ever raise the issue of economic exploitation of East Pakistan by the West Pakistani businessmen or talk about the prevalence of disparity between the two wings?
BNP, born overnight inside an air-cooled room, had added the word ‘nationalist’ on a second thought perhaps to make it sound a bit somber. The motley band of elderly political rejects present there had one thing in common – all of them had opposed the creation of Bangladesh. They worked for the interest of Pakistan.
These politicians never worked for the interest of the masses and thus were never nationalists. And as they opposed the creation of Bangladesh were never Bangladeshi. The founder of BNP was highly impressed by the curriculum vitae of those anti-Bangladesh people.
Thus, BNP added both Bangladesh and Nationalist to its name. The political activities of BNP in the last 41 years clearly demonstrate that it hardly worked heart and soul for upholding the principles on the basis of which Bangladesh was created. As an overtly elitist party, the leaders never allowed the common people to come closer to talk about their grievances.
The party in question is now beset with some chronic ailments that have their roots in its very birth and the misnomers in its name or title. The cure is surgical removal of almost all the old, controversial and criminal minded leaders and activists from the party. They should take educated young people, imbibe them with the true history and spirit of liberation of Bangladesh and the role of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
There may be a dozen political parties but there has to be one single history in one single country. For example, in the USA, all political parties believe in one single history of their independence and founding fathers. Why not in Bangladesh?
Shahnoor Wahid is Advisory Editor
of Bangladesh Post