NEWSLINE

Sugarcoating discarded as well

Khawaza Main Uddin | Update:

It's not that history will be made a hundred years after 30 December 2018; it has already been scripted, however, in the brains of those who have not yet sold out their conscience.

Records of the Bangladesh elections on that day have given birth to new records, which are certainly not limited to number of seats – 288 out of 300 won by the rulers – or percentage of votes secured by some candidates – close to 100 per cent.

The records can also be understood in the use of words such as ‘over-managed’, ‘controlled’, ‘lopsided’, ‘monopolistic’ ‘tainted’ ‘stage-managed’ and ‘stunning’ that are attributable to the country’s 11th parliamentary polls.

Even such reckoning too shows a kind of euphemism in comparison to terms like ‘farcical’, ‘mockery’ ‘engineered’, ‘manipulated’, ‘snatched’, ‘rigged’, ‘intimidated’ and ‘by hook, crook and ballot’, as described by the opposition and the foreign media.

No matter whatever coinages are developed to narrate propriety (!) of the elections or to drum up support for the tactics employed to make it happen, the results remain the same.

When the voters are stopped from exercising their right, it’s hard to create any positive impression in the minds of millions. They know what was done to them and so did those who did it.

So, this is not an accident or incident, rather a choice, certain calculated policy on the basis of which a series of actions were designed and commissioned. Development is the excuse of staying in power denying the commoners the right to elect their leaders. Is this development meant for these voters?

At least one exposition of behind the scenes acts is made available in the public relations campaign to justify whatever actions taken to attain victory of one side in the electoral race, instead of focussing on the people’s deprivation of voting right and collective mood of the nation after such a ballot.

The leaders of the particular side spelt out what they wanted to do by thwarting the contestants to move freely during the elections. The ones in the government machinery who had implemented the scheme did not either hide their faces.

All those who are visible in the media, including some ‘journalists’ and other stakeholders, have just proved what they support and how, ignoring the value of democracy on which they had been giving lectures for decades.

That some people would lose conscience and expose themselves in public might be a choice but unfortunately they have contributed to ruining of the institutions built earlier with the belief that the people’s rights would be upheld and justice delivered in society.

Of course, the practice of liberal democracy has its own limitations and, accordingly, the public officials in democracy do maintain some sugarcoated values, apart from the ones that are really exercised, to glorify the system and reconcile themselves with the greater people.

Nothing – vengeance for the political rivals or global trend of authoritarianism – can defend actions against the people when you claim to be a democracy.

Donald Trump is a cheap option in blaming for sending political decency into exile but his character and attack on institutions are not at least welcome to the US public opinion. The Chinese leadership, on the other hand, does not arrange elections of Western style, keeping sanctity of their own system.

The authorities in Bangladesh in 2018 did not hesitate in giving whatever arguments they thought to be suitable, followed by official measures to ensure they return to power. Thus they predicted with certainty the public would not matter, at least not this time around, the manner in which countries like North Korea and Egypt hold elections.

The openness of actions – be it filing of cases, arrest of opposition leaders and activists, creating an atmosphere of fear, ballot stuffing, and use of terrorism – suggested that there is no relevance of using euphemistic words about people in the practice of power politics at this stage. The issue of moral legitimacy, which was being discussed before the elections, seems to be absurd in the hawks’ eye.

The protagonists of such actions may still not comprehend that they and their patrons have been isolated further from the masses who were not allowed to vote. Perhaps many of them don’t bother the fact that they will no longer be considered social role models.

Also, nobody knows the ultimate costs of this decline in a society that still needs to grow – economically, socially, politically, psychologically and otherwise.

I wonder what the answer of the current leaders at the helm of different institutions shall be to the next generation if the latter asks the former the definitions of fairness, justice, dignity, truthfulness, morality of actions, rule of law, fear and favour and all that!

As the children don’t lie and accept no less than truth, no credible answer to their query is available in the present political narratives.

The leaders, who are so concerned about their names in history, would be evaluated by the true nature of their own acts today. If they bank on old saying that history is written by the victorious forces, why hadn’t the tyrants of the past found glorious positions in history books?

The posterity shall not use either sugarcoated words to respect their predecessors who would not leave a decent record of themselves.

* Khawaza Main Uddin is a journalist and he can be contacted at khawazaa@prothomalo.com

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