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26th-Dec-2014

Political leadership is not a matter of wish: We have to earn it

By Editorial Desk

Even after the 44 years of independence, dynastic leadership and lack of democratic practices have caused Bangladesh's multi-party democracy to turn into "partyarchy". The tendency of ruling party, whatever it is, to exert overwhelming influence on state and non-state institutions has welcomed the ghost of 'liberal fascism' which is now haunting the country. The electoral authoritarianism has bridled the virtues of democracy, revived after toppling the autocratic regime of Military ruler Ershad in 1991. The sorry state of governance in Bangladesh that involves party politics, government, civil society and business was unveiled on Sunday by a study report titled "State of Governance Bangladesh 2013: Democracy Party Politics" by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development. The study findings got wide coverage in the media - both print and wire.
The report explicitly exposed the poor skeleton of the country's political culture. It said, Bangladesh is witnessing a downslide in rule of law, democratic accountability and state building over the years. Despite economic progress at the rate of around 6pc, Bangladesh's democratic development has been hampered engendering serious frustration for the public. Democratic development is in crisis globally but Bangladesh's "deficit in democracy" and "slow development of pluralism in the practices of democracy" have raised the dynastic feudalism and strangulated economic development markedly.
The poor structure of practicing democracy in the country has influenced political underdevelopment, degree of democracy within the two major political parties, and the gap between intent and actual practice within the parties, the study report revealed. Corruption has swallowed the entire file and rank of the democratic institutions, including the legislature, executive, judiciary, civil society, newspapers and the civil-military bureaucrats. Whose role is supposed to uphold the rule of law, like the Supreme Court Bar is also found disrespectful to the rule of law, as it resorted to vandalism over political issues, and continued to hold partisan political activities on court premises. The rhetoric remarks of legal experts for upholding democratic values are just a show to catch the sympathy of dynasts.
Politicisation of civil bureaucracy was started immediately after the liberation war. In fact, it started with the induction of 'Tofael boys' in the Civil Service in 1973 who served Military ruler Ershad successfully over the years and are widely known for their inefficiency and corruption. Furthermore regionalism and political links in civil administration catalyse bifurcation in the theoretically non-partisan branch of governance which is, in effect, disastrous to state-building and nation-building. The desired progress is lingering due to quota domination and political domination suppressing merit in recruiting civil servants. And thus civil servant recruitment has been developing a sense of deprivation among the youth aspirants that has rather created a new social cleavage.
As a strong tool, Civil Society in Bangladesh, has to be capable to play an impressive role in creating awareness against rights violations by rulers and vengeance politics, but it has not been possible, especially in recent years, as dominant parties have managed to capture civil society organisations as their active loyalists diminish their image too as party activists over the years.
In a democracy, there is a "crying need" for inclusive and decentralised representation. The report said political violence has increased at a steady rate of 4 percent annually between 2008 and 2013. The ruling party, whichever it is, always outstrips the opposition in terms of perpetrating violence.
It is not a matter of wish or slavishness to have political leadership. The political leadership grows through virtues of democracy and it is the responsibility of intellectual elites to help political leadership to grow. Anybody coming to power by hook or crook is not a political leader.
It is a horror to find terrible violence in the power struggle of our country. The university going students are used for wielding sticks and guns against the opponents. By this the leaders, not being political, are destroying our civilised future. No political leader will destroy the young ones this way.