Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dr. Y + Dr. K + Dr. B = ?

Recently someone asked me the following question:

“how do u reckon the chance of Dr. Younus, the 'man of the moment' in Bangladesh, joining hands with old horses like Dr. Kamal and Dr. B. Chowdhury???? And, what could be the result in that case, any idea???”

I'd like to split my answer into three. 1. Will it happen? 2. What if it happened? 3. What probably will happen?

Well the first answer is quite easy. Not likely. Though given current turns that politics in Bangladesh have taken, cannot be ruled out.

The second answer is somewhat more complex. To understand it I think we have to analyze each of the components of the equation.

Dr. Y: riding high after the Nobel. Plus has tremendous amount of goodwill without any major political baggage. He, I believe, can galvanize a lot of popular support. And if he made the request, many "clean" candidates will take the plunge. But so far he has disappointed me personally. Over the last few months (since his Anti Corruption Commission article in early '05 - my criticism in my blog) he has made many calls and inspired others without necessarily leading from the front. As a leader you need to be at head of the charge. His ideas are great but we don't need ideas as much as we need someone to take the reins and say this is where we are going. Dr Y has failed there.

Dr. K: a man with impeccable mental ability. He is someone who is articulate in his thought and decisive in his judgment. The biggest mistake he made was forming Gono Forum. Though I was a supporter of the GF in the '96 elections, I never thought they had a chance. Dr. K would have been better as an "elder statesman". He could have been like a political ombudsman; one who could be the nation's conscience. We would go to him at times of crisis like this or when we needed guidance or a goal. Unfortunately he is now seen to be a small partial player.

Dr. B: another articulate man. He has enough personal charisma to charm the voters. Over the years has built up excellent organizational skill and experience to run a grassroots political party. He has enough cache with the international community, civil society and general mass to have pulled himself above petty politics and take a stand on issues. His initial gambit of putting out political posters with Bhasani, Mujib and Zia was a marketing / PR genius! Unfortunately it has been downhill since then. He has failed to build his party. Why, he has failed to appeal to even the middle class intellectuals who are looking for leadership. He has failed to show what he stands for. The recent LDP is a good initiative though they still haven't given us clarity about their philosophy and guiding principles. While LDP makes a big thing about the corruption of BNP's Hawa Bhaban crowd, they have amongst them the notoriously dishonest Jahanara Begum and morally corrupt Alamgir Kabir.

On paper Dr. Y + Dr. K + Dr. B = winning combination. But in reality I think it has the potential of blowing up in our faces. Or even worse - dying without even a whimper!

If we can get Dr. Y to join active politics, why do we need the other two? They bring baggage that some of the Gen71 (amongst others) will find that they cannot live with. Dr. Y himself is good enough to bring moral strength and fortitude to build an honest, efficient and effective third force. Just think about it. If he called you and said "I'm looking for people who will join my new crusade, will you accept?" I don't know about you, but I will be willing to give up my world to stand behind him. And I know hundreds if not thousands other who will as well.

Dr. K + Dr. B did try the formula without the "magic" ingredient. But it did not create a stir.

The answer to the third question is that Dr. K & Dr. B have already have understanding of the political maneuvering need till the next elections. Dr. K will go back to the AL for support and Dr. B to LDP. Hence it looks as if LDP and AL will have a pre-election agreement. The basis of this agreement I think will be that AL will agree not to put any candidates in 25-30 constituency where LDP candidates have a chance of winning. LDP will also run campaigns in another, say, 100 odd seats where they will play the role of "spoiler". That is they will split the old BNP votes and in-turn allow the AL candidate to win. Do remember that the winning margin in more than 150 seats in the 2001 election was in single digits. Even a small 4% swing of voters away from the BNP can lead to a loss of these seats. [For election analysis see http://nazimkamranchoudhury.blogspot.com]

Dr. Y in the meantime will not do too much except keep saying that we need "clean" candidates in the election.

Dr. Y + Dr. B + Dr. K = could be, would be, should be!


Anonymous said...

I am sure many of us are certain that the duopoly of BNP / AL is not delivering the results. At the same time, I would think the initiatives like third force, bikalpa dhara [and gono forum] are going to go nowhere because, as you will say in marketing, there are only two places in the mind of the masses, so you are either the leader or the challenger or nobody.

Hence, we dont need a third force, we need a SECOND one. Dr. B and Dr. K by themselves have failed to provide an alternative because they aimed at creating another option on the ballot. Dr. Y, knowing this well, will be reluctant to go down that route.

This is what I read in his reluctance to enter politics, something you mentioned in your articles. I would see that as a wise strategy, and would be tempted to belive that Dr. Y, being the public man that he is, has saved himself embarrassments and earned himself the platform of national conscience-keeper, rather than becoming a spent force by now.

Hence, what you say presents an interesting opportunity. What we need to see whether this, or other combinations, have the potential to become a movement to create an alternative to present political formation altogether. Forgive my ignorance, but I believe that BNP emerged as a political party because it filled the challenger spot somewhat by default, and because of the enormous goodwill of Zia. But, they have now, like Liberal Democrats in Britain, become more of the same thing [particularly after the coalition politics of last few years], and are vulnerable to losing that spot to an emerging force, if it has the ambition to be the SECOND force.

Tanvir said...

Oh I left a comment before, it never appeared. Anyway, its pretty optimistic of you to see Dr. Y, B, K together. Frankly there's no similarity between them except the 'Doctor' part. Mixing up oil and water would be easier! Dr. Yunus is not a politician, I seriously doubt he would have the zeal to be in politics. Dr. B and Dr. K have lost their luminescence after they have left their party. Dr. B and Dr. K may have to make alliance with either of the two mainstream parties to be elected. To me Dr. B + Dr. K alone wouldn't render any favorable result.

However, AL + LDP is probably the most optimistic equation to win the election. Either way there's AL or BNP at the end. I feel pity about our people who have only learned to vote these two parties alternatively.

Nazim Farhan Choudhury said...

Tanvir, you just proved my point. Basically what I am saying is that three persons are not likely to come together because they don't have much in "common" to do so.

On a related note, I was saddened to see Dr Y giving the President and the Caretaker government an A+. I had expected a more measured response from him. It sends a wrong message and can marginalise him.

Salam Dhaka said...

I was also dissapointed to see Dr. Yunus so blatantly give Iajuddin an
A+. Next moment you see a big reception for Dr. Y by Dr I. Dr. Yunus need not have done that.

It is a fact that Iajuddin "took" the CTG post. All his personal staff are known Hawa Bhaban cronies. Tarique Rahman gets direct access to the advisor's meetings through Dr. I's press minister.

freesoul said...

I assume Dr Y gave an A+ just to diffuse all speculations that he wil take up an active role in the CTG actions(which he is/was not too interested in). He seems like a down to earth visionary who prefers to stay away from the politics of controversy. I do foresee the probability of any party coming to power next offering him the president's role. However, the last thing a fresh nobel laureate would want is having his name malighned across the news media because he chose to help the nation out by intervening in CTG. Don't forget that he is also connected to grameen and the political parties who oppose his vies and ivolvement as CTG. can easily put grameen activities in trouble. We have seen that happening, haven't we? And if his name gets used the wrong way the international media will pick it up just like that. Let us allow the first BD nobel laureate to enjoy his newly acquired fame and peace of mind while he can...