Providing financial statements to the NBR or in the affidavit to the Election Commission and revealing it before the public is not the same thing. In actuality, wealth of most of the parliament members increase so much before and after the election, that shy away from making it public.
Today’s discussion isn’t centered on the parliament members’ financial statements, but on the statement of their other activities. Recently, actions of several parliament members created quite a stir in the social media. They are also making headlines in the mainstream media.
According to a report of Prothom Alo, “The preparatory committee for Debidwar Upazila Awami League’s council met at the LD hall of Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban on the afternoon of 16 July. At one point during that meeting, MP Razee Mohammad Fakhrul of Cumilla-4 punched Debidwar upazila chairman Abul Kalam Azad.”
One people’s representative punched another. If the upazila chairman were from a different party, he could have been easily silenced by labeling him as a conspirator against the government. But, that wasn’t possible as both of them were Awami League leaders.
In protest of the incident, followers of the upazila chairman rallied against the followers of the MP with broomsticks, held demonstrations and formed human chains. Dhaka-Chattogram highway was blocked which resulted in traffic congestion on either side of the highway.
Earlier, lawmaker Omar Faruk Chowdhury from Rajshahi-1 constituency was accused of assaulting Salim Reza, the principal of Rajabari Degree College in Godagari upazila.
After the news was published in media, principal Salim Reza held a press conference. Sitting next to the MP in that press conference, principal Salim Reza said that some of the college principals and vice principals had gone to meet him on Eid as he had been injured in a tussle among themselves. MP Omar Faruk Chowdhury didn’t lay a hand on him, he added.
Right after that, an audio clip containing the description of that Rajshahi principal being assaulted was leaked. Former general secretary Asaduzzaman and former secretary on science and technology affairs Akhtaruzzaman of district Awami League committee claimed the audio clip was authentic.
Akhtaruzzaman said, the chief of the probe committee Molla Mahfuz Al-Hossain, registrar of National University, had called him on his mobile phone and asked him about the incident.
He told him the details of what Salim Reza had said to him over the phone. Besides, he also told him about the injury marks he had seen on Salim Reza while visiting him.
Omar Faruk Chowdhury said in the press conference, held in connection to the allegation of assaulting the college principal, “The incident occurred between principal Salim Reza and me. I’m unable to understand why Asaduzzaman is commenting on this issue. He is not a part of this.”
It appears from Omar Faruk Chowdhury’s statement, parliament members of the ruling party do not just want to shut the mouths of the opposition leaders and activists. They also make sure the leaders and activists of their own party not to say anything against them.
Awami League’s advantage is that if anyone utters anything against a minister, parliament member or some other leader, they are labeled as corrupt, intruders, hybrids etc.
Noakhali’s Comapniganj will remain an example of how violent Awami League’s politics can be on the local level. The people saw the power of Basurhat municipality mayor Mirza Abdul Quader more than the parliament there.
He straightforwardly said, if there was a fair election, Noakhali MPs wouldn’t even have gotten a chance to flee through the back door. Currently, a temporary ‘truce’ is prevailing there, because of his brother Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader's intervention.
Prior to that, lawmaker of Barguna-2 constituency Showkat Hasanur Rahman had made headlines in Prothom Alo several times. He has made it a habit of assaulting people in any trivial issue. He beats up anyone he deems opposing towards his opinion. There have even been incidents of assaults on the court premises.
There was another MP, Abdur Rahman alias Badi. Whenever there’s a discussion on drug trade in Cox's Bazar-Teknaf area, his name comes up. While being a parliament member, he had insulted and assaulted several people starting from engineers to teachers in his area.
Last Ramadan he had openly assaulted three leaders during a party meeting right before iftar. Although he is not an MP at present, his wife is a lawmaker.
There's a freedom fighter murder case going on against another former lawmaker from Tangail, Amanur Rahman Khan. This time his father has become the parliament member.
Awami League has rewarded the people it couldn't give nomination to in the last election on account of various allegations, by giving nominations to their family members instead. However, the cases that are there against these ex MPs, are also mysteriously on hold. When will these cases be settled?
How many more people will have to be assaulted in the hands of the MPs due to internal clashes or for some other reasons?
The parliamentarians’ job is legislation, helping the development of their respective constituencies and serving the public. But, why do their hands itch whenever they see someone holding a different opinion in their area? Why should the language of violence be favourite to the lawmakers rahter than the language of law?
Doesn't the party that led the liberation war of Bangladesh and has been involved in movements and struggles for seven decades find better candidates than this?
* Sohrab Hassan is joint editor of Prothom Alo and a poet. He can be contacted at [email protected]
* This column appeared in the online and print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Nourin Ahmed Monisha