Then in power, Awami League used that identity of a service provider and nominated him in the next parliament election. Taking a seat in parliament changed the person, who once said, “Do not turn away any injured patient empty handed even if you have not any medicine. Even a soothing word helps a patient,” into a person who boasts about being responsible for some people’s death in a process that is clearly defined as contravening of the laws. AL served show cause notice to Enamur Rahman for his speech. He asked people’s apology while HM Ibrahim said sorry in a way that is akin to not saying so. He blamed the newspersons of slashing some parts of his speech and presenting that with ill intent.

Bangladesh is a land of dangerous political rhetoric. The way political leaders talk about their opposite numbers, sometimes it does not seem they are talking about a fellow human being. Every now and then politicians chant slogans of burning, setting fire etc. And, these rhetoric sometimes set a standard of how the leaders’ supporters would behave towards the others. Is that democracy or a mob rule? Surely there is a difference between the two – one talks about ensuring rights of every individual while the other vouches for the mighty, of different types. “In essence, democracy is above all a formula for imagining subjection to the power and will of others without sacrificing personal dignity or voluntarily jeopardizing individual or family interests. The standing of any such formula is necessarily precarious in political use, since subjection itself detracts painfully from dignity in the first instance…” says acclaimed political scientist John Dunn in his book ‘Breaking Democracy’s Spell’. Political leaders with enough sharp wit are required so that the process of people’s voluntary “… subjection to the power and will of others …” does not become a tool of oppression.

But it does not seem some, if not all, of our cabinet members realise the difference and have enough sharp wit. Otherwise, how could we explain the mockery of Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud in last week of April when he said the BNP’s protest rallies mean presence of just 200 people in a city of 20 million (2 crore). He is here talking about mobs, not a democratic right of protesting the price hike of daily essentials. If a political leader says it requires millions to protest about a problem in a significant way, no doubt he is talking about mob, not democracy.

Regarding the government of Krishak Praja Party (KPP) formed after winning the provincial elections in British India in the winter of 1936-37, in his book ‘Banglar Madhyabitter Atmabikash (The growth of Bangali Middle Class)’, Kamruddin Ahmed said, for the first time the people in this region began to feel the government as their own, nothing colonial in its nature, as that was formed by people who are familiar to them, whom they have talked to, and sometimes shared food. That’s an ideological part of the government in democracy.

These days the government in Bangladesh, it can be said, has become super-ideological as they are more familiar to the people than what was during the time of KPP’s government; and more readily available to the people albeit through speeches through TV channels and video clips on social media. But there is a practical part of the process as well – when any VIP goes, roads remain closed for people and the VIP, that means someone of the government goes in a car that have blackened glass and passes swiftly. So close yet so far.

Since the government always wants, and sometimes explicitly asks, people to hold onto the ideological part of the process, taking the opportunity, we want to say as the information minister sometimes takes classes at universities, it would be a significant task if he organises classes of some of his colleagues about what is democracy and what is pseudo-democracy. At the same time he has to educate himself of the issue as well. The higher echelon of the government also could acquire some virtue by providing some books for that purpose.

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