Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lakho Konthe Exposed: Episode 5, Bangabandhu, Bangabandhu Everywhere

The Lakho Konthe program may be history for now, but it highlights something important. The issue at hand is the politics of reinforcement of a historical perspective. Solely trying to associate Sheikh Mujib with the occasion of March 26 1971, the Independence Day of Bangladesh (as in the case of the Lakho Konthe occasion), and also other national days is in itself not a crime. The crime is the obliteration of the names and signs of the other contributors to the history of Bangladesh, namely people like Maulana Bhashani, MAG Osmani and President Ziaur Rahman among countless others.

Lakho Konthe stage prominently featuring Sheikh Mujib

If Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman deserves this amount of representation due to a fiery speech on the 7th of March 1971, then the others deserve loads more for what they did for the country around the same time. And I’m NOT bringing into the equation how Sheikh Mujib verifiably screwed up the nascent country called Bangladesh during his governance post 1971.    

Lakho Konthe singing stage with nothing but a big fat slice of Sheikh Mujib

The Lakho Konthe guest stand and the singing stage was filled with huge pictures of Bangabandhu, while the sea of people hummed to the tunes of the national anthem with a picture of Bangabandhu imprinted on their caps. Even the program ended with the customary slogan of “Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu”.

The caps at the Lakho Konthe event. Its all about the Pa of the nation.

Some may shirk it off as a simple political event, but the fact remains that around 300,000 people attended the program, a feat in itself. Spending time and money in sending a message to 300,000 people is no isolated feat, it’s a deliberate attempt at modifying and superimposing a deliberate version of history.

Not an isolated feat:

The nefariously intentioned pictures of Sheikh Mujib are not just occasional appearances in television and road signs, they are plastered everywhere. One such widely seen example is the face of Sheikh Mujib on the currency notes. Although faces of the father of the nation on currency notes is nothing much to be go gaga about given the fact that the Awami League has been in power for half a decade now, the fact that his is the only face that is found on all notes except the 1 taka note is something to be wary of, given the fact that not another single leader is featured in this regard. The simple question remains. Are we not justified in claiming that this is a deliberate attempt at distorting history?

Below are images of the various denominations of the taka notes (the full set, I may add), all featuring Sheikh Mujib.

Absolutely not an isolated feat:

On December 14 2009, the cabinet led by Sheikh Hasina at its weekly meeting on December 14, agreed in principle to change the name of the country's main airport from Zia International Airport and rename it after the great saint Hazrat Shahjalal (RA). A decision also was made to rename those institutions and installations whose names were changed following the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujior Rahman in 1975.  

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who presided over the meeting, was requested by the Awami League General Secretary and LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam to change the name of Zia International Airport. The prime minister asked all present to propose the new name and the name of Hazrat Shahjalal (RA) was approved. The cost of the renaming operation cost the nation 1400 crore taka.

Past examples show us that the successive governments led by AL have renamed the Institute of Post Graduate Studies in Agriculture at Gazipur as Bangabandhu Agricultural University in 1996, the PG Hospital as Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Jamuna bridge to Bangabandhu Bridge, Bhashani Novo theatre to Bangabandhu Novo theatre and have most recently renamed the Bangladesh-China Friendship Convention Centre as the Bangabandhu Convention Centre.

It is mentionable that the BNP initiated a few changes as well, such as changing the Ershad Army stadium to Army stadium, the Chittagong airport (initially named after M.A. Hannan) to Shah Amanat Airport and the Chandrima Uddyan to Zia Uddyan. The name changes by the BNP when it was in power stem from reactionary politics initiated by this aggressive stance by the AL when it was in power.

So be wary folks. Set aside those chetona sunglasses and open your eyes to how your history is being edited.

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