The most interesting news regarding the upcoming national polls is indeed Mashrafe’s new foray of stepping into politics. Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, perhaps the greatest captain Bangladesh cricket has ever produced, collected the nomination paper from Awami League to contest the upcoming general election from his home district Narail.
An image of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza receiving the nomination form from Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader at the ruling party president’s Dhanmondi office was run on the front pages of most of the national dailies of Bangladesh several days back. His aspiration for nomination has fuelled some debate, though, among the people. Some are supporting his decision while some are opposing it envisaging that it may be the beginning of his reputation to tarnish.
Mashrafe is not a mere successful skipper and a cricketer; he is the man who taught the entire country to dream big, in cricket though. He is the man who brought Bangladesh’s position to a very strong position in international cricket. What made Mashrafe most famous is his leadership potential and certainly the utmost love and respect that he showed in different times for the people of Bangladesh. His leadership potentials are not only reflected through cricket but also they get depicted through his attitude while treating his fans. Ignoring
security issues, in the way Mashrafe protected one of his crazy fans who ran towards him in an ongoing cricket match against Afghanistan could be perceived as a great example of it.
Many would say such attitude was very unprofessional, but it is nonetheless not surprising indeed when it comes to Mashrafe. It is not to analyse whether Mashrafe was right or wrong in that case, but it is to mention that Mash is the leader who carries a great love and respect for his followers. And a leader like him is very much necessary in our political sphere. Pessimists and anti-liberation forces argue that people irrespective of political views love Mashrafe but by joining AL the Tigers’ skipper has divided his followers.
Many might also ask as to why Mashrafe has gone under the banner of Awami League to contest the national polls, but the answer is that the skipper loves the people of this country and in order to work for their welfare no other alliance is perfect in the pertaining political context. Moreover, the country witnessed a remarkably good relation between the skipper and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The biggest argument from the part of those who love Mashrafe irrespective of political views and support his entry into politics is that: why will Mash join the anti-liberation forces?
There are Mashrafe fans who expressed their disappointment over his decision to contest the polls. People who are opposing his decision should keep in mind that Mashrafe has long been playing with some brutal injuries. Since his debut in 2001, the captain has been injured for countless times and during his career he had to undergo several major surgeries in his two knees. Now, Mashrafe is widely expected to retire after the World Cup in 2019. He has already retired from Twenty20 international cricket and has not played a Test match since 2009. Hence, Mashrafe’s involvement into politics seems to be the best option for him to serve the people he loves the most.
It is disappointing to note that after taking nomination from AL, a number of videos criticising Mashrafe have become viral on YouTube and social media platforms. There is no denying that such videos are misleading people’s perception towards Mashrafe. But these
criticisms are a reflection of narrow mentality that some people nurture.
People of Narail want Mashrafe to be their leader. Even there are opposition parties who too want Mash to become a lawmaker for them. In fact, commenting on such an issue regarding the skipper is indeed a selfish exercise.
Because of the fatal injuries in his leg, Mashrafe has to lead a harsh and challenging life. Already he should have gone for retirement. But only for the sake of his country, he has been playing. And certainly his leadership has had brought a new life into Bangladeshi cricket which would not become possible without his diligent captaincy.
To run in an election is one’s constitutional right. If any cricketer wants to exercise this right, people should not arise any question to discourage one. Constitution shows that there is no prohibition on active players trying their hand at politics. Cricketers participating in national polls are a common phenomenon in South Asia but it is rare for a running cricketer to make the change. Earlier India’s Azhar Uddin, Sr Lanka’s Arjuna Ranatunga and Pakistan’s Imran Khan participated in national parliamentary polls, and Imran Khan is the current prime minister of Pakistan.
Clean image, popularity and acceptability are the key criteria AL has set for nominations aspirants in the December 30 national election. Besides, good ties with people and grassroots units in respective constituencies, no graft allegations, ability to woo floating voters, and development projects in own areas are other factors that the party is considering very seriously. If we scrutinize Mashrafe’s capability to fullfil all the above criteria, we might found that Mashrafe is one of the perfect candidates in this regard. There is no doubt that Mashrafe’s decision of contesting the polls is timely and appropriate.
Politics is more of a platform through which a true leader gets the access to wander explicitly in the grassroots level. And for a person like Mashrafe, politics can be the best instrument for serving the people of his country. The field has changed and so the game, the gallery is much bigger and audiences are adult but our expectations remain the same. It is time for our beloved Mashrafe to give his best in politics certainly for the welfare of the people. It is expected that the courage, honesty and patience that Mashrafe executed in the history of cricket throughout his struggling and successful career will be instilled further into the field of politics through his grand debut in the power race. It won’t be surprising if Mash brings about a revolution in country’s political sphere.
All the best Mashrafe, sail your boat, a long journey is calling you to embark on.
S H B Shuvro is a member of the Editorial Team of Bangladesh Post