NYS Election 22: A Lesson for the Bangladeshi Community
Mohammad Zainal Abedin:
The NYS (New York State) election’2022 left a good lesson for the Bangladeshi community, opined its analysts, candidates, political activists, and cross-section of people. Some of them mourn for their utter defeat, however, most of them consider the defeat as a lesson which may help the community to rectify their loopholes and gradually fix them.
Talking with this correspondent they admitted they admitted their weakness saying, our candidates were comparatively inexperienced, ill-equipped, and even incompetent to attract the voters of such a multi-cultural society like America.
Dr. Muzibul Haq, a congressional Candidate (Dist. 4) of New York was defeated in the Democratic Party Primary election, held on August 23, 2022. Explaining the reasons for his defeat, he said, during my election campaign it was limited basically to the South Asian Communities and most of them did not go to the polling center on the Election Day.
He regretfully said a particular community of South Asia not only voted for me, but also campaigned against me, though I always considered them as my closest friends and well-wishers.
He said, I got vast experience from the recent election, which is very essential for any contestant. It helped me to recognize my friends and foes. I became acquainted with the pattern and system of the US election, which is totally different from that of my country of origin. It will help me to frame my future election strategy.
He said, being defeated, I am not at all disappointed, rather I feel encouraged, as I could identify my loopholes and fix them, which will help me to remain in the race in future.
Mohammed N. Mujumdar, a Bronx-based Bangladesh origin reputed lawyer, earned an LLM degree from the US. He contested for City Councilman (D-18) in the Democratic Party Primary Election but, despite having requisite qualification and qualities, he lost the race.
When asked about the major causes of his failure, N. Mujumder said, “My constituency is a home to various ethnic communities, where 70% are Hispanic, 25% Black, 5% Asian, among whom 4% Bangladeshi.
Most of these communities have their respective candidates, so it is almost impossible to get elected contesting the rival candidates. Most of these community people cannot rise above their own community feelings.
Being a candidate of a minor community, it is really difficult to be elected on the party of any candidate, unless getting the support of all communities.
Besides, the Bangladeshi community suffers from personality conflict, non-cooperation, and above all disunity. Such a situation is a great blow for us. Citing his own debacle due to such non-cooperation and non-coordination he said, I had to face a contestant from our own community, though our community is very small.
“So, we should have our own community board, which will choose or nominate a single candidate for one portfolio,” N. Mujumder suggested adding, “That’s not enough, we will outreach to our neighborhoods belonging to other communities.”
“We should share our well and woe with them and extend our helping hand to them whenever they face any disaster or calamity, attend their events like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas festivals and equally invite them during our festivals.”
This lawyer said, Bangladeshi candidates should forget the pattern of Bangladeshi politics. We should follow and practice with the mainstream politicians, and acquire requisite qualifications and qualities; otherwise we will not be able to get those positions that we desire.
This correspondent tried to talk with many other candidates who were also defeated in the primary election. But they either did not receive my call, or declined to talk on the election issue.
One of them, though luckily, talked to me detailing his own limitations, including the so-called betrayal of his fellow-neighbors of South Asian communities. However, he requested not to print the contents of the conversations.
What needs to be done?
To end such a political debacle I talked with some renowned and conscious people of the Bangladeshi community to know the reasons of the failure of the candidates and what steps they should take to gradually overcome the obstacles.
Morshed Alam, a renowned mainstream politician, who was a New York State Congressional candidate in 1998 said, he is not despaired despite the disastrous defeat of the Bangladeshi candidate in the 2022 primary Election.
He said, such a defeat is natural. We just started. We are just entering our second generation. We are preparing our field to plant seeds. We will surely pluck the fruits in future. Our children are getting ready to fulfill our dream. They will lead us to victory.
This experienced community leader suggested, to reach our goal we are to be collectively united and politically conscious and comprehend the values of voting. We should not stop; rather we must continue our journey till we reach our goal. Being the proud citizens of America we should train and qualify our children equivalent to those who led America in the past, and lead now.
Mahatab Uddin Ahmed, A teacher of New York Public School believes that the candidates of the Bangladeshi community did not have enough communication with the voters of their own community, not to speak of other communities. Most of them neither could comprehend, nor implement the technicalities of the American election system or campaign strategy. It is a long process. A candidate is to work for a long time from grassroots level. In America an abrupt candidate never can attract voters in any level of election.
He said, they are to communicate round the year with all the people of all the communities of his election district. They are to work in favor of the promising candidates for years to earn experience, which will also increase their interaction with the members of other communities.
Pointing to the failure of the Bangladeshi candidates, Mr. Mahatab said, there is no strong unity among Bangladeshis. They even are envious of one another. In many cases, some of them desire the downfall of his fellow community candidate. As a result, many of them vote for the candidates belonging to other communities.
He said, our candidates need to have requisite quality, experience, so that they get the endorsement of their own party and above all, get the support of voters belonging to other communities living in their election district.
Hasan Ali: Hasan Ali, The President of ‘Organization of Bangladeshi American’ the main reasons for the defeat of the Bangladeshi candidates taught us that we do not have enough support among all other community people. Most of our candidates were not qualified enough like their contestants
He should get lesion from loss and at the same time we should go forward to the future. We should stop. He said, our main responsibility is to help our respective party candidates for the final round of the election to be held on November 8, 2022.
We should motivate our community people to go to the polling centers to vote for the party candidates which they support. They can help their party candidate carrying voters to the election center using their vehicles, distributing leaflets, and among the voters.
Mohammad Imran Hossen Ansari: The Secretary of CHARD (Coalition for Human Rights And Democracy in Bangladesh) briefly highlighted the reasons of the utter defeat of the Bangladeshi candidates saying, most of them are not well-educated, do not have enough knowledge on the political system, they were not interested in winning the election, but to be known among the voters; due to the social, cultural and linguistic dissimilarity, they failed to attract voters to cast their votes in their favor.
To overcome the electoral failures of the Bangladeshi political activists in America, Ansari suggested, “Our candidates need to have proper political training and work for a longtime as activists, remove their linguistic weakness, and attain socio-economic strength.”
“Besides, they should be involved in active politics and social works, participate in election campaigns, develop interfaith friendship and develop relationships with all communities of his surrounding areas” he opined.
Opinions of cross-section of people
This correspondent also talked with several of the people belonging to the Bangladeshi Community that include teachers, activists, professionals, working people, even housewives expressed identical views and opinions regarding the qualities and activities of the Bangladeshi candidates. Synopsis of their views are , above all, the road. They said Bangladeshi politicians must work for the party throughout the year, not only during the election season. They should wholeheartedly work for the incumbent elected representatives or the candidates nominated by their party till they themselves reach their respective goal. This will help them to be acquainted with the people of all the communities of their respective election districts and beyond.
They must have to be equal in all fields to the probable contestants and the voters must believe that they are fit to serve the people better. They must have clean records in their personal credentials, which are very essential in American politics.
Above all, politics in America is very expansive and it is not a seasonal matter. They must be financially solvent and organize fundraising for candidates of their choice, other than printing and distributing leaflets, flyers and all other propaganda materials. All these will help them to be recognized among the common people and the policymakers of their parties, who only endorse them during their election year. *
October 9, 2022
Mohammad Zainal Abedin, is a Bangladesh-origin journalist & researcher who edits NY-based Weekly Runner News