Not helping AL

Nadeem Qadir

This gives some vested quarters the chance to further malign BCL, and that means Sheikh Hasina, by using the organisation’s name in various criminal activities

John F Kennedy, in his inaugural address in 1961, said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for the country.” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also the chief of the ruling Awami League, almost advised likewise to the activists of her party’s student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) recently.

Speaking at the BCL mourning-month rally in Dhaka’s historic Suhrawardy Udyan, the prime minister told them to follow Bangabandhu’s spirit of sacrifice, not greed or amassing wealth. The country’s oldest student group, BCL, was founded in 1948 and played a pivotal role in all great movements of the country, including the 1971 liberation war and the 1990 movement to oust the autocratic government.

“History has not remembered those who joined politics driven by greed for wealth, and those who do so now will face the same fate,” she told the rally.

Hasina added: “Always think what you can give to the people of the country, and not what you got.” The prime minister had rightly spoken.

In an opinion poll carried out by the Dhaka Tribune, the majority said they were satisfied with the government and the next elections should be held after this government completed its five-year tenure.

But unfortunately, BCL has been resorting to activities that have damaged the government’s image and have given the wrong message of lawlessness in the country. Newspaper reports regularly speak of BCL activists resorting to various crimes, especially extortion and tender businesses.

This gives some vested quarters the chance to further malign BCL, and that means Sheikh Hasina, by using the organisation’s name in various criminal activities.

The latest incident involved BCL activists rampaging the Chittagong railway station. The station master, Jafar Ahmed, was quoted as saying that some 30 BCL men vandalised the manager’s room without trying to understand the situation. The BCL men did not get the 340 tickets they had asked for earlier. It has been alleged that they often ask for such a huge number of tickets.

Even if we want to believe Nurul Azim Roni, general secretary of BCL Chittagong City Unit, that they were manhandled first by the railway employees, vandalising the station is still not the answer. The result was another humiliation for Sheikh Hasina, who is fondly called “Apa” or “Sister.” The Daily Star, even wrote an editorial on the issue saying the “government must reign in.”

“The damage that the wayward BCL activists do to the government’s image should not be countenanced by the authorities. It is in the greater interest of the ruling AL that it keep such activists of its student front on a tight leash,” the newspaper’s editorial said. It charged that BCL resorted to its “all too familiar, high-handed methods to impose their will …”

The Daily Star is widely read, and its readership includes the expatriate community, who assess the country’s situation on the basis of these reports. What impression have they gotten? The Dhaka Tribune has also published a report titled: “BCL goes on rampage at Chittagong rail station.”

Is that the gift you – BCL activists – give to your Apa, the prime minister? You must reflect the pride that comes with belonging to the Awami League of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Muibur Rahman, and her able daughter, Sheikh Hasina, who has been struggling to give Bangladeshis a better life despite many hurdles. There were so many attempts to assassinate her, but God’s mercy has saved her. You are a majority and must be tolerant, not violent and anarchic.

BCL must carry this proud flag and give up all such activities and set an example of tolerance and positive student politics. They must focus on how the education system can be improved and how politics can be saner with more debate rather than muscle.

To quote Kennedy again: “We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom – symbolising an end, as well as beginning – signifying renewal, as well as change.” You must not let down a great leader like Bangabandhu, nor his daughter. Think and act, don’t let the country down. Celebrate the freedom of a Razakar-free Bangladesh.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

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