Opposition undermining themselves through comments that turn out to be meaningless

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Published on February 6, 2023
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The credibility of remarks from Bangladesh’s opposition alliance has once again come into question as against the backdrop of repeated claims that “Bangladesh will go bankrupt”, International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave the greenlight for $4.7 billion loan as financial assistance recently.

A video of Reza Kibria, convener of Gono Odhikar Parishad, shows him referring to his past experience of working with the IMF as an economist, and predicting that the Bangladesh government would fail to secure the IMF loan. The video had gone viral.

“There is no chance this government would receive IMF funding… I can say it for certain...” Kibria is heard saying in a sarcastic tone.

He even ridiculed the country’s finance minister, saying “It’s not mama bari (maternal uncle’s home) as I understand… He (finance minister) should stop peddling lies like the govt may get IMF loan.”

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and other leaders also forecasted an impending dire crisis engulfing the country and insisted that the AL government bear all the responsibilities.

Fakhrul made projections with complete certainty that the government would have to return empty-handed from IMF. Bangladesh, under the current government, will be in a quagmire – “situation will be much worse than Sri Lanka” is what he predicted. Following in the footsteps of Fakhrul, other leaders of the party resonated similar projections too.

“One may have certain differences with a government, any government, but when one takes on oneself the role of soothsayer, it is a deplorable situation. Bangladesh’s political opposition and its supporters have only undermined themselves through comments which turned out to be meaningless,” according to country’s eminent journalist and author Syed Badrul Ahsan.

When the Covid-19 wave started taking a toll on the country, there were misinformation and doomsday predictions galore – raising fears of millions of deaths, coupled with a complete breakdown of the health system and an outright failure on part of the government in managing the crisis.

David Bergman, who runs the offshore portal Netra News and is the son-in-law of opposition leader Dr Kamal Hossain, then predicted millions of deaths in Bangladesh and a complete breakdown in the healthcare system.

In reference to “disinformation campaigns”, veteran journalist Syed Badrul Ahsan, who also authored a number of books on historic incidents, said, “The naysayers and the doomsday prophets should have been careful with their projections. A responsible opposition must see beyond the ambition to gain power. It does itself little credit when it looks away from the good done by the government of the day.”

“The government has done an admirable job of handling the Covid-19 crisis, of ensuring that Bangladesh came nowhere near the Sri Lanka situation, of coming by the IMF loan,” added Badrul, who held senior ranks with a number of the country’s leading dailies.

With official confirmation from IMF making headlines, old videos and posts featuring Reza to Fakhrul to Bergman have been brought back to public attention by pro-AL netizens.

Amid confirmation from IMF, political observers say BNP should give up the tactic of “maintaining a denial mode” against any major initiative undertaken by the AL-led government that benefits the nation.

Netizens also recalled when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina decided to construct the Padma Bridge with Bangladesh’s own resources after World Bank pulled out over unsubstantiated corruption allegations, BNP chief Khaleda Zia called the move “a pipe dream”.

About the IMF loan, Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, tweeted: “IMF officials had indicated they view Bangladesh’s economic stress as a product of external shocks, not bad policy. Dhaka also received a stabilization deal, not a bailout package – it’s meant to preempt worse problems down the road. IMF had few concerns, hence faster road to deal.”