Dictator General Ershad lives in the Character of Millions – Mohammad Kepayet Ullah
Humayun Azad, a prominent writer of Bangladesh, once described Bangladeshi democracy in his book entitled “Rajnitibidgon” to mean that a commander will occupy a country in the early morning and then he will call a judge and the fool judge will think the commander has become the president. Then the commander will be giving the country a boot-sunglasses democracy. The country’s opportunists then will be gathering around these boots.
General Hussain Muhammad Ershad might have assumed power in the same way. In 1933, Adolf Hitler established the dictatorship in Germany. Exactly 49 years after that Ershad occupied Bangladesh in 1982. It may be mistaken to find matches between Ershad and Hitler. But both of them set the same day of the year for taking over the state power. Both were also military personnel. During World War I, Hitler fought for the country, but Ershad did not fight for Bangladesh during the liberation war. He was a coward. During the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, he was in Pakistan. As a Pakistani soldier, it might have been worthwhile to go there. Although, after independence, General Ershad returned from Pakistan in 1973 and joined Bangladesh Army. However, he was about to lose his job in military but by the sympathy of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman he retained his job. Sheikh Mujib rehabilitated him in the army and Ziaur Rahma made him the chief of Bangladesh military force violating the rule of seniority.
There are trends in Bangladesh military that a person is favored in the run of military chief based on his proximity to the power holders not his personal competence or seniority, without following the rules and ethics. This trend still continues although the scenarios have changed due to the lapse of time. After the independence, it was easy to launch a military coup in the young Bangladesh. However, who got into power by the military coup, nobody could sustain for a longtime in the political theatre. The exception is Ershad. In the world, it seems that the only military ruler who survived in the political theatre after losing power. Why could Ershad survive? Who has kept him up in the politics?
People do not acknowledge the military dictatorship. students strike, and civil unrests spread across the country. People start anti-autocratic movements. Was the movement of the 90s really an anti-autocratic movement or it was an anti-Ershad movement only? It requires a long argument. However, it seems that the movement was only against a person, not against the dictatorship and not against the authoritarian systems. We are tolerant of dictatorship today. If the movement was against the system, it must have heave been ended in 90s forever. But the dictatorship never ended at that time and the political structure that survived in 90s never changed. Dictators by other names except military coup still survive within the structure left by Ershad. Peoples have a misconception that a military ruler riding on the power by a coup be called a dictator. But the reality suggests otherwise, an elected government establishes autocracy that is called fascism. Although the words are different, they are almost same by the nature and extent.
It is said that, people are educated from ancestors. Our rulers also learned from many things from general Ershad. The following governments after Ershad have learned how to establish despotism, how to prolong the power, how to use the religion in the politics, how to play with people’s emotions, how to leave a survivorship after the demise of power and so forth. So, after the era of Ershad, the shadows of Ershad multiflued in the political theatre of Bangladesh. Ershad has corrupted the pipeline that channeled millions of new Ershads in the politics.
Humayun Azad said in his another book entiled “Amra ki Emon Bangladesh Cheyechilam” that menfolk of Bangladesh were already polluted, Ershad has polluted even women and poems. He has spoiled the character of Bangladeshi politicians and getting a decent man the political theatre has become rare. Ershad corrupted culture and poetry too. During his tenure, the media was not free and even media never became free in Bangladesh. He suddenly became a poet and General’s poetry was printed on the first page of the newspaper. His poetry created disagreements among the poetic community, but he never cared about that. His political campaigns were set to be started with his written songs, a bad joke. This type of sycophancy still continues where our leaders and rulers get their paid degrees and titles.