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Winning hearts and minds

Winning the hearts and minds of the people of a nation is a tricky affair. We haven’t seen a political leader in this part of the world trying to win the hearts and minds of the people he/she is supposed to serve.
No one even thinks about acquiring a place in people’s hearts. We have thousands of people who claim themselves leaders, and for that matter, people’s representatives.
We have seen Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sending out this message to her party leaders who have been elected in public office so that they plan their to-dos according to the needs of the people who have elected them.
She said this once again last week. She has urged the people’s representatives to perform in such a manner that they can win the hearts and minds of the people.
As a member of the common people, I hope to see our reps doing a survey — a survey in his/her constituency in order to understand their expectations.
Since my childhood, I have never seen any elected representative arranging a focus group discussion or going around, asking the people: “What do you think my priorities should be?” None.
They have always taken the people’s expectations for granted. They were always seen choosing on behalf of the people without asking them.
First, I would like to see our representatives talking to us, arranging a townhall meeting by inviting the residents of his/her constituency at a community centre or in his/her office. Then he/she may roam around the area, asking questions.
He/she may not be able to meet our expectations, but meeting the people would be a great strategic tool through which we would come to the conclusion that “at least our rep wants to know our expectations.”
We have seen our respected deceased Mayor Annisul Huq trying his heart out for the responsibility he was assigned to shoulder. He never took the credit for what he accomplished; he never used the media for disseminating his own fame. He knew he would be remembered for his work, and that was what he was doing. It’s our misfortune that we lost him.
Remember Bangabandhu? He never claimed that he was a great leader, but he always prioritized the people’s expectations first. He mingled with the people and wanted to know their demands. He also spoke in favour of them — all the time.
I suppose citing Bangabandhu’s example to the current lot of public representatives would be a futile exercise, because the current lot do sell his image, but no one tries to follow the values that he had upheld.
We the people don’t want much. We know wanting more could frustrate us in the current context. All we would like to see is that our representatives care for the lot who have elected them.
Thanking the people, we believe, is the best way to earn people’s respect as a representative in this country. There are many examples across the world which could be emulated in Bangladesh too.
And one has to really work for the people. It would be greatly appreciated if you kindly make people’s lives easier and try solving their problems as if the problems were your own.
In Bangladesh, making people happy is also very easy. Trying to reduce corruption makes us happy. Setting an example by campaigning against “eve-teasers” is likely to make us happy and we would also stand by them who try to work against those disrespecting our women.
Taking your work as a mere profession or a mere means of earning billions will never place you in our minds. You could follow our prime minister also.
What she does comes from passionate thinking, not professional thought. She has a radiating body language that tells us that she cares for the people.
We would like to see the leaders who can make us understand by their actions that they care.
First published in Dhaka Tribune.

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