Election entertainment with elements of joy

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He visited my office a few days ago. His face was pale, his voice broken. I had never seen him like this before. I realised from his words that he was devastated because of the 7 January election. Will the election this time be the same as the last two times? He asked the question and said in a miserable voice, there is no end to this, Asif!

He is a former professor of my university, having spent his life teaching and in research. I never saw him involved in any grouping in the university. He even stayed at a distance when we would issue statements on various issues. So I was rather taken aback to see him in this state of despair. I tried to console him by saying, "Sir, let it be. There's no use in worrying about all this." He wouldn't stop, continuing to voice his despair -- what is all this happening, I can't take it! 

I listen to many others like him. I heard the same remarks from many, at the university club, social events, on the streets, everywhere – they’re holding the election in this manner, yet again! I don’t think there has been such a distressful election ever before. In 2014 the people were shocked, in 2018 they were cautious but hopeful. In 2024 the people are distressed, depressed and worried about the future of the country.

Then again, there are some people who are happy. One party has been thrashed and forced to leave the fray. Another party is ruling the roost, exultantly calling out, “the game is on!” though they are the only ones in the game. Even if only a few, they have a number of spectators cheering them on. The 7th is the day of the game. On that day too, it will be only that party with a few loyal and dummy elements. The referee, linesmen and the football federation will all be on their side.

In this one-party game, one party will score the goals with no hindrance. On that day too there will be the same exultation, or even more. The results of the have already been determined, 300-0. Yet their jubilation, arrogance and self-importance is increasing by the day.

As for us who have no part in this game, no consent and no interest, will we just remain depressed? I have been thinking over the last few days, there is no need to remain so. There is something for us to be proud of, even to be entertained, with this game. Can we look at it this way?


Those who loot the country of its resources, make off with the banks’ money or pocket funds from the projects, are quite happy in an unjust and sick manner. We remain satisfied in a different manner. And that is by not taking part in such matters with the satisfaction of remaining good. There is no greater joy than having a clear conscience.

Perhaps we can similarly be happy about the election. If anyone is happy by rigging the votes, then we should be happy that we did not take part in this despite being lured and threatened. We did not give in. Quite to the contrary, we speak against all this out of love for the country and democracy, we fight and protest. Let this be our matter of pride and joy.

If the offenders bask in self-satisfaction and pride, we should do so all the more so. Of course we will be pained for the plight of democracy and human rights, and stress about how to overcome this predicament. But we have the conscience and humanity within ourselves to worry about these matters, that itself a matter of pride and joy. This joy is so much greater than sick thinking.

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I know that many persons are being pressurised in many ways to go against their conscience and consent to this election game. They are wrongly being threatened that they will be deprived of their right to various social benefits. Voting is a constitutional right. If votes lose value or if there is any other consideration, it is also a constitutional right not to vote. Yet that right is being spurned and attempts being made to force people to come to the polling centres. This despicable act is being done openly, brazenly. If these miscreants can exult in their wrongdoing, then we can also try to exult in our rejection of such wrongdoing, in our honesty.

We all know there is a referee that stands above the referee, a federation above the federation. Today or tomorrow, this dishonest game will come to an end. That is the rule of the world. We can be happy in our wait for the day that this comes about.


We can also try to be entertained a bit by this one-sided game. So much s happening around the country over who to select among the dummies and the loyalists of the party with 300 goal-strikers for the 7 January match. Some have left the field, not finding their name among the players or not being paid to play. The referees are assuring that the one-team game will go smoothly, all 300 goals will be unhindered and the same one party will impartially score.

Not for a moment should we waver and think that there is anything to be proud of in winning this game. There is no real victory in this game, actually. We did not take part in any way in this game – let that be our consolation and contentment of our conscience.

The forces in the field deployed to maintain peace, for long back have beaten and driven other parties out of the field at the behest of one particular party. They are searching for the players and officials of the party that has been driven out, catching and detaining them. The disciplinary board of the federation has declared this detention order legal.

All sorts of ploys are being used to cajole the journalists who have come to cover the game. There is pressure to portray this game as fair and inclusive. Attempts are being made to convince the international media and FIFA too.

When has there been such a fun game in Bangladesh! This can be taken as a form of entertainment and enjoyed. But not for a moment should we waver and think that there is anything to be proud of in winning this game. There is no real victory in this game, actually. We did not take part in any way in this game – let that be our consolation and contentment of our conscience.

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