One thing certain about politics in Bangladesh is that it has an evolving order in the midst of an emerging chaos. If closely observed, it is right now abiding by Newton's first law of motion. The object at rest stays at rest, while the object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction. One of the assumptions of the law of inertia is that it does not change unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
So the ruling party stays in power, while the opposition stays opposed. It is almost certain now, that the period between now and the middle of next year could be crucial for BNP. Rumors are out that its chairperson might land in jail for one or many of the charges brought against her, and warrants are being issued and withdrawn in her name, perhaps by way of testing the waters before taking the plunge. She and some of her trusted associates might also get implicated in some case or other and more turncoats might leave the party, pushing it towards a split.
Someone seems to be fishing in this muddy water. Jatiya Party chairman Hussain Muhammad Ershad is out there to reorganize his party and harness an alliance with splinter groups flying about in the political arena. Many believe that this erstwhile potentate is making his last ditch effort to return to power.
It is obvious the ruling party is working to have BNP cut down to size, which works in favor of Ershad. The return of BNP to power will not bring him good news. Staying under the fold of the ruling party will never deliver his ambition to sit in power. So his best option is to flex his muscles through a quickly hashed alliance that might give him some bargaining power in the upcoming elections.
The odds for Ershad are low in any situation other than having BNP in power. So he is busy cobbling together an alliance of pro-liberation and Islamic forces in a sort of best-of-both-worlds solution. His chances are better if he shares power with the ruling party, because popular support for him is not yet that clear.
As a matter of fact, it is alleged that his recent political dynamism sprang out of his double-edged optimism. He wants to take a chance winning under the banner of his own party. Failing that, he is happy to stay with the ruling party, his newfound alliances giving him an edge over the last time. Skeptics argue that Ershad is cavorting with the religious parties at the behest of the government.
Unfortunate for a country is when politics cannibalizes itself. In other words, when the political parties turn to destroying instead of defeating each other, politics loses its context. That is when power struggles have national parties behaving like Visigoths destroying a civilization.
One of the many ironies of history is that it repeats itself, and it happens due to the dismal fact that nobody learns from his or her mistakes. BNP once thought it could crush its enemies and usurp power forever, as if deceleration does not work where there is no kinetic friction. The grenade attack on August 21 must have been motivated by such a senseless ambition.
What will happen remains to be seen. Ershad is notorious for his flipflops. His party is engaged in internecine struggle. Two court cases are still hanging over him like the sword of Damocles. How far he can go with his most recent initiative is hard to tell. But he has nothing to lose, because things cannot get any worse for him than where he stands today.