Professor Anu Muhammad, Nazrul Islam, Naeem Mohaiemen, Ahmed Shamim, Dina Siddiqi, and Nayma Qayum talked on various sides of the issue at a seminar on ‘Bangladesh Tomorrow: Rethinking Left Politics’ at the Graduate Center, CUNY on Tuesday, January 28th. It was moderated by Humayun Kabir. Most of the attendees were, naturally, of Bangladeshi origin. The event was free. It was sponsored by South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI), AlalODulal.org and Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN).
The speakers at ‘Bangladesh Tomorrow: Rethinking Left Politic’s mentioned what has been going on in Bangladesh politics and why hope for a democratic Bangladesh is still a far cry. They explained the situation from leftist point of view. It was well presented. I agreed with many points but some issues were not clear to me and it seemed like clarification was avoided, not because they wanted to make it vague but they could not have a clear answer yet. The speakers mentioned about Bangladeshi People’s struggle for a free and fair democratic system but how they have been squeezed between ‘dui mohila’ (two women) system – what Prof. Anu Muhammad calls “two jamindar parties.” Professor Anu mentioned how ordinary people worked, in some situations, to overcome unjust oppressive situations and were able to win over some demands! They wanted more of these kind action and awareness from Bangladeshi people.
The speakers hoped more conversation among the Bangladeshis living home and abroad about political condition in Bangladesh. For me, the brightest side of the event was to see many young people who attended. I enjoyed listening to the speakers. However, I wanted to know what the left are doing in Bangladesh to change the current situation? Are the left capable of bringing people together as a whole? Who are the PEOPLE in the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh? Who represent the people? Do Bangladeshis think themselves as a ‘we the people’ first and or more of a class of people? Is there any innovative solution suggested by any parties? What is the left’s approach to socialist ideas now as the world has been changing so fast?
In a writing, Prof. Anu Muhammad stated that the Bangladeshi left’s own historic weaknesses and internal divisions have also contributed to this crisis of perception. And yet, as Anu Muhammad points out, “if the left is so insignificant, why do the mainstream parties spend so much energy trying to verbally attack us?” Well, because most of the time the strong fight with the weak and insignificant parties, not with the strong. There are many examples of that in history. Mainstream parties spend energy to attack left – not because left is significant but – that is a strategy for the strong. In the case Bangladesh, two mainstream ‘jamindar parties’ spend so much energy trying to verbally attack the left to divert people’s attention from the real issue.
I think there are many analytical problems in left politics in Bangladesh. It may be deeply rich in critical intellectual analysis but it could be much more reality-based to overcome its shortcomings.
From my part, I should think deeper about the issue. Congratulation to the organizer for the event and hope they will do more.