Mashrafe BinMortaza, whose Midas touch as a captain of the Bangladesh cricket team has changed the outfit's attitude and shape, has left his sobering influence on yet another area-politics to be precise. He has just ventured into this uncharted territory for him but already shown why he is different from the run-of-the-mill politicians. On Tuesday he himself requested his supporters to remove his posters from walls and electric poles. Immediately his supporters got into the act of removing their idol candidate's posters from places unapproved by the election regulations. What an example the iconic cricket captain has set for others in politics vying for the 11th parliamentary elections!
This is just at a time when election campaign is at its clamorous crescendo and its digital version is continuously causing onslaughts on the eardrums of voters and non-voters. Even if the campaign was limited to such acoustic aggression, people did not have much to complain. There are attacks galore on rival campaigners and supporters of rival candidates all across the country. Even shooting at candidates' residences has been reported. This does not help the cause of holding an election in a peaceful and congenial atmosphere. Whoever are carrying the attacks are doing a great disservice not only their rivals but also to the party or parties they express their allegiance. They are simply vitiating the polling environment which must be free of muscle-flexing and violence. Forces other than the participants can take advantage of this.
As a sportsperson, Mashrafe is imbued with the spirit of healthy competition and he has respected the campaign directive as assiduously as possible. In an election race, there are rogue candidates as well as men and women of suave behavior and refined culture. They must entertain mutual respect for their rivals in the race as well as the rules and regulations set for election campaign. Muscle power goes counter to the democratic spirit that asks one to be humble to the will of the franchise or by extension to the people. Even loss of life in poll violence is not uncommon in this part of the world and around the world where democratic institutions are yet to develop.
This acts as a slap not only on democracy but also on the level of civilisation a nation has reached. Wit and pun that were once the armoury of politicians have taken leave of the new generation of politics. This is a terrible loss. Intellectual height is becoming a rare commodity in politics today and therefore the animosity has become both virulent and pathological. Only in rare instances do people show they can transcend the partisan boundary line to be courteous to their rivals. But that should have been the norm rather than the exceptions.
Politics as a vocation cannot be free from intrigues but this also should have a limit. Courtesy and generosity of heart cannot be sacrificed at the altar of narrow and self-seeking politics. Unless politicians are generous and liberal in their attitudes, they are unlikely to advance the nation's cause. First they must show the way in all respects. They have to comply with laws of the land in order to set example for others to follow. If they break law with impunity, not only do they become unfit to govern people but also encourage others to take the law into their own hands. This is how anarchy rules the roost in a country of pigmy politicians. Some African countries may be the best examples of such lawlessness.
Violence breeds violence and political violence has its adverse impacts for a long time. This nation is carrying a baggage of political violence as an original sin triggered by men in uniform in 1974. It is not easy to get rid of this despicable legacy. But as a forward-looking nation, it must strive to come out clean on this.