Rashed Khan Menon, the famous left winger in Bangladesh politics, seems to have a very simplistic idea of changing colour. Menon, who served at separate ministries during the ruling Awami League's last tenure, in an interesting turn of events, has said Bangladesh's voters were deprived of exercising their franchise in the last parliamentary election.
"I was elected [as a lawmaker] in the last national election. Regardless, I testify that the people could not cast their votes in the election," he said recently while speaking at a function in Barishal.
Menon said this at a time when he was served a legal notice nearly a month ago for being the governing body chairman of Fakirapool Young Men's Club, where a casino was being run by some Jubo League stalwarts.
He has been a member of parliament for consecutive three terms on Awami League ticket and he is still holding the position of ministerial status as the chairman of a parliamentary standing committee.
He is criticising right now, but if we recall his view following the December 30, 2018 election, Menon's statement was different. At a public meeting on February 19, 2019, he said, "The BNP at first tried to foil the election and now is trying to question the result of the election. People elected the 14-party alliance spontaneously."
Menon was never such critical of the Hasina government policies, stands and statements. Rather on all occasions he along with another left stalwart Hasanul Huq Inu of Jasod defended, justified and covered up all of the Awami League deeds and words.
Now what has happened that the left leader suddenly turned so revolutionary? One reason may be that he was not made a minister this time by Sheikh Hasina. Another can be the casino case for which he has started the "offence is the best defence" policy.
Political leaders love flocks of unthinking followers. They do not promote critical thinking among their cadre, nor do they institute mechanisms within their parties to facilitate critical appraisal of party policies. The same holds for Rashed Khan Menon's Workers Party despite being the fact that it is a leftist organisation.
A party with a democratic structure has never happened to this country. There are cults driven by "charismatic" personalities inside the party. Menon is such a charismatic figure in his party and also in the country's political arena. The Workers Party is basically a one-man party. There are many activities, but his party is actually not a party.
It has become evident that Rashed Khan Menon wanted to stay in Hasina's cabinet for as long as he could. It was not clear why Sheikh Hasina did not continue him as a minister.
Rashed Khan Menon is judged in the political arena as a qualified political engineer, and no one is sure whether he has been given the assignment of derailing the present government's journey. Being the leader of a much-reduced party is now playing ball against the establishment. Perhaps he is playing high knowing that only by having a seat at the high table will fend off the kind of charges he is facing after the explosion of Casino Drama.
Syed Ishtiaque Reza is the Editor in Chief of GTV. He can be reached: [email protected]