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Problems of Democracy- Crisis of Patriotic Leadership

Bangladesh is a country of endless prospects. There are huge possibilities and factors in favour of democratic growth and economic development in the country. Many third World countries started their journey towards democratic governance and economic development with fragile institutions as was in the case of Bangladesh still lags behind. The basic reason behind such a position is the leadership devoid of efficiency and spirit of patriotism, which these nations have been suffering since its independence.
Bangladesh is lacking of strong patriotic political leadership essential for leading the nation toward progress and stability. Our leaders do not hold image to unite the nation in a platform. Because they consider themselves as leader of there party not the nation as a whole.

The Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Muhammad there is a classic example of a prudent, intelligent and above all patriotic leadership who transformed his country from rudimentary stage of this ‘tiger’ status surpassing countless socio-economic problems with which Malaysia was beset earlier. South Korea’s economy was no better than ours in the ‘60s. Its per capita income was lower than that of Bangladesh in 1953. But by virtue of solid leadership skill, it has surpassed us long back. The age of our Independence is 38 years, which is a pretty long time. Unfortunately, we still talk about food, cloths, and shelter-three basic needs of the people. This 38 years period was enough for any civilized and hard working nation to change its luck and rise to glory. Ironically we failed even to meet our minimum heeds over this long period. Our people are no less hard working than those on industrial nations. They do not know the way to do it. The leaders in our country only ‘aggravate the crisis of democracy by trying to shape events to suit their own exigency while disregarding the urgent need for economic growth of the country. Their commitments were limited to speeches and the ritual of annual plans are drawn up and implemented by bureaucracy … No political effort was made to inspire the people towards sacrifice and growth and no serious national plan was envisaged to deal with these problems. The leaders remained too busy with small, peripheral, petty personal politics and ignored the fundamental issues of development and democracy. After the end of one and half decade’s military-bureaucratic rule, parliamentary democracy has been reintroduced in 1991 but till now no viable dedicated and patriotic leader has yet evolved. Still politicization in the administration goes on. Both Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina have adopted the policy of creating a support-base within the bureaucracy and administration. Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina _ there two ladies are struggling, as their activities show, not for the cause of democracy; rather for finding them in power any how.[1] Both are showing their narrow outlook and are adopting the policy of provoking each other. They have also stopped the way to emerge any viable leadership in democratic way. Democracy may be captive at the hand of these two ladies if they do not come out from their narrow out look for the cause of democracy.


Another great impediment in the growth of democracy in Bangladesh is the hereditary dynastic nature of leadership developed in the party system.[2] For smooth working of democracy leadership should be evolved through democratic process both at the party and state level. But Bangladesh hardly experienced the tradition of growing leadership through democratic practices. In the country personal leadership evolved by means of heredity who never practice democracy either at the party level or at the state level. Even never did they patronize the development of parallel leadership following the democratic procedure.[3] Merit, quality, experience, dedication never receive consideration in becoming leadership of the party. Khaleda Zia became the leader of BNP because she is the wife of late President Ziaur Rahman and Sheikh Hasina became the leader of Awami League only because she is daughter of the founding father of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman despite having more qualified and experienced leaders within their respective parties. The leaders of the two major political parties are now permanently settled in their respective positions cancelling all the possibilities of emergence of new leadership in their respective parties. Moreover personal likings and disliking of them get serious priority for holding party positions and portfolios of the government. Anybody can loose his or her post and position within the parties if party chief lift finger against him or her. Under such personal leadership no political institution can work smoothly which seriously undermine the institutionalization of democracy in Bangladesh.

[1] Halim, M.A. Constitution, Constitutional Law and Politics: Bangladesh Perspective, Dhaka: Rico Printers,1998
[2] Ahmed, Maudud, Democracy and the Challenge of Development: A Study of Politics and Military Intervention in Bangladesh, UPL, 1995, p. 372
[3] Haider, Zaglul, op.cit., p.74