936Published on January 25, 2024
Following the resounding victory of the Awami League in the 12th National Parliament elections, leaders of various countries around the world are extending their congratulations. Current and former heads of states, diplomats, international development cooperation organizations, and alliances are sending messages of support and well-wishes to the Sheikh Hasina government. Congratulatory messages and letters are being conveyed through courtesy meetings with Sheikh Hasina by representatives from different nations and organizations.
While international media is effusively praising Sheikh Hasina, there is also criticism as some publications detail instances of violence by opposition parties, including the BNP, aimed at disrupting the elections. Notably, a congratulatory message signed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reached the Bangladesh government on 18 January, shattering the aspirations of the BNP. The question arises: Why does the BNP take issue with this congratulatory letter?
The BNP finds itself in a state of confusion, having been immersed in a web of lies and rumours against the government to the extent that its leaders now perceive a mere rope as a snake. The party's reliance on Facebook rumors rather than engaging in practical field politics has contributed to its current dire situation. In the lead-up to the elections, the BNP held the belief that the government would be unable to conduct elections following the constitution. They anticipated that various countries and international organizations would exert pressure on the government to halt the elections. A narrative was propagated that the UN would dispatch peacekeepers to compel Sheikh Hasina to resign, paving the way for elections under a UN formula, ultimately resulting in BNP coming to power with fugitive Tarique Zia as the prime minister. This narrative gained traction among activists and supporters due to its frequent dissemination on various Facebook pages and YouTube channels affiliated with the BNP. However, the BNP supporters did not question whether it was appropriate for the UN to intervene in the elections of an independent country or assume responsibility for the electoral process. BNP leaders strategically incorporated the names of the UN and international organizations into their rumours, aiming to lend credibility to their narrative among the general public.
This marks the first instance where the BNP refrains from invoking the name of the United Nations, a departure from their past practice of using the organization's name to spread falsehoods. In July 2018, during UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's two-day visit to Dhaka to assess the Rohingya situation, BNP Secretary-General Fakhrul faced criticism for failing to secure a meeting with the UN Secretary-General despite extensive lobbying. In the lead-up to the elections in September, there was a media frenzy in the country claiming that the United Nations Secretary-General had invited Fakhrul. BNP asserted that Guterres had called Fakhrul to New York to hear his grievances regarding the Awami League government and the impending elections. Fakhrul promptly traveled to New York, took a selfie in front of the United Nations building, and shared it on Facebook, prompting BNP activists to declare victory in Fakhrul's name. Following the meeting, Fakhrul returned home hailed as a hero.
Subsequently, it came to light that Fakhrul was not invited by Guterres. Instead, after considerable negotiation, Fakhrul secured a meeting with UN Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenča. Joyce Luis Diaz, her strategic communication officer, clarified that it was a routine meeting. However, during Fakhrul's absence, Rizvi and Maudud continued to disseminate information about this supposed invitation in the media. The media also portrayed it as though Antonio Guterres and Fakhrul had a private meeting. While Fakhrul was seen strolling around the balcony of the United Nations, Guterres was not in New York at the time. He was in Ghana, attending the funeral of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Upon his return, Fakhrul appeared remarkably confident that Antonio Guterres would overturn Sheikh Hasina's government. However, when the truth emerged, Fakhrul became the subject of widespread ridicule across the country. He avoided facing the media for several days after the revelation.
BNP leaders are frequently engaged in deceptive practices, such as circulating a fake letter purportedly from 6 US Congressmen through fugitive Tarique Rahman's special assistant Humayun, fabricating a phone conversation involving BJP leader Amit Shah discussing a meeting with Khaleda Zia, falsely claiming dialogue after a meeting with the German ambassador, and purchasing a medal for Khaleda Zia from a fictitious Canadian human rights organization. With a track record of deceitful activities, the BNP is accustomed to similarly treating others. Now, these deceptive BNP leaders are casting doubt on the authenticity of the congratulatory letter sent by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, following the re-election of Awami League in the election. It's akin to the proverb - "rogues supplant justice." Individuals who have been exposed for their deceitful practices and forgeries in front of the nation are now questioning the legitimacy of this congratulatory message. It's selucus– what a strange twist characteristic of the BNP's behavior!