No country for honest men

Afsan Chowdhury
Thursday, January 11th, 2018
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The situation of ex-MP and FF Yusuf’s is terrible but that has existed since 2001 when he had a stroke and became incapacitated. No one noticed. He had been an MP in the 1991 Sangsad and joined the ruling party AL from the Communist Party, which he had served for many years. It was the party of choice for a man of idealism. In 1991, he probably thought it was better to be part of the powerful ruling class to serve his constituency of marginalized people.


Though the AL lost to the BNP as a party, his idealism didn’t. What Yusuf did was more in the mould of all sacrificing Leftists which many legends speak of.  He in fact speaks of a culture of politics and idealism and self denial which our Left, Right and Centrist politicians don’t even understand anymore let alone practice.


A history of patriotism and integrity


Yusuf’s life has been one of patriotism, integrity and pro-poor politics. He has been active for the rights of industrial workers and other poor, an advocate for a better life for the disadvantaged and an example of leading a life without corruption. Most people in this position including trade Union leaders like him are usually found to be rich and many are accused of having large piles of black money.


Yusuf on the other hand has none and led a life of great suffering and ill health till he became the subject of a wretchedly miserable media story, paying a horrific price for his honesty for all to see. Nobody cared about him and nobody even bothered to find out how he was doing in the final leg of his life, full of illness and poverty.


Let’s say that the AL is a party to which he was a newcomer so it didn’t bother to find out much about him. After all, who would care about such new entrants unless one is close to power? But there are at least two CPB stalwarts in the party who are doing very well. One is Education Minister Nahid and the other is the Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury. Surely they knew of him and about him so why didn’t they move? But it’s possible that they are so important in the new party now, they would not want to be involved with the life of the miserable loser, who has nothing to show for himself except his wretched poverty and ailing body knocking on the door of death.


It’s not worth it to be honest


But nor did his old party and his comrades bother and certainly not the many FF organizations and Trusts which claim to represent the interests of the FFs. In fact the permanent news in media is about FF lists but little about his terrible fate but how they are faring after the war is won. It’s ironical that a 9 months war has taken more than 47 years to prepare a list of its veterans.


That is because being there means all kinds of privileges and so the competition to be there is high. Yusuf was on the list and the FF pension was all he was getting but no one was there to look after him, or help him out including his treatment. It means a mere FF pension is not enough for the poor FF. But in so many ways this is typical of Bangladesh.


So let’s face the bare truth. If there is one country where people should avoid sacrificing one’s own welfare for the greater good of others, it’s this land. It’s a misplaced space for displaying nobility of the soul which Yusuf has. Should he not have realized that his fate was inevitable because he was not plundering in the name of politics and the 1971 war like so many others? This is no country for honest and sincere souls like him and his fate is an advertisement to warn others not to commit such mistakes ever.


But come to think of it, no one does sacrifice much these days and that is good anyway because the view of a man who fought a war to liberate his country, who fought for the rights of the poor and the downtrodden, lying helplessly on a hospital bed , unconscious and unable to speak is a good reminder that this should  never be done by a patriot ever. Nobody is there for him.

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