From the looks of it, it seems as though he has quite a flair for drama and stops at nothing to create a show. But when will Ershad quit the theatrics and get to work?
At the start, Ershad met with Hefazat chief Shah Ahmed Shafi to seek his blessing. He vowed to break his alliance with the Awami League, and promised Shafi that he would form a coalition with Islamist parties. Moreover, he also promised him that he will implement their 13-point agenda if he is to be elected to power, an agenda whose demands encompassed the segregation of men and women in all public spaces, a ban on candle-lighting vigils, and capital punishment for atheists. But Ershadâ€™s attempt to â€˜receive Shafiâ€™s blessingâ€™ was a feeble and transparent effort to court the vote of the organization and its growing following. In fact, the day after the meeting, Ershad turned around and declared his alliance with the Awami League and his impending participation in the election polls, prompting Hefazat to come out with a statement terming Ershad a â€œslave of Awami Leagueâ€ and accusing him of â€œusing Hefazat to fulfill his motivesâ€.
But in a dramatic turn of events, Ershad then announced that his party will boycott the elections, and has asked party nominees to withdraw their candidatures. Jatiya Party leaders who are members of Sheikh Hasinaâ€™s interim government, were ordered to tender their resignations. Thus far, 4 of them have stepped down.
Shortly after he had announced his decision to boycott the elections, the 83-year old party chair threatened to commit suicide, stating, â€œI have loaded four pistols and Iâ€™ve told the government that if they play any tricks with me, I will kill myself.â€ â€œI will die before the RAB (the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion) or the police can lay a finger on me,â€ he said, before making a trigger-pulling gesture towards his head.
All of these dramatics call into question whether Ershad is still fit to be a leader, even for a party which has witnessed waning support in recent years. Sheikh Hasina and her party are nonetheless continuing to court Ershad, in a last-ditch effort to add some semblance of legitimacy to the upcoming elections held under her rule. The absence of Ershadâ€™s party in the â€˜all-partyâ€™ government and in the 10th General Elections further negate any claims that Sheikh Hasina has made about the upcoming elections as credible.
But what credibility is Sheikh Hasina looking to achieve by courting someone who uses such antics in their political decision-making. Bangladesh does not need to worry about an unfit leader when there are bigger problems to address.