Founded in 1992, Gono Forum has been twenty years in the political field. In these past 20 years, Gono Forum has only held its council four times in total. And in all this time, veteran politician and legal expert Dr. Kamal Hossain has remained the party’s President. Even in the recent council, he was elected party President once again.
Dr. Kamal Hossain is portrayed as a champion of democracy and so the question arose as to why no alternative leadership has arisen in the party. Is there a lack of democratic practice within the party? He has always been very vocal about reforms and the practice of democracy within political parties, so many quarters are now questioning the state of his own party.
The creation of Gono Forum had been all about an alternative trend in politics, a healthy strain of politics. But now, with the passage of two decades, analysts are questioning the contribution of Gono Forum in national politics.
The party has failed to project its ideals in this period and it is uncertain as to which section of society it represents. People don’t seem to have much faith in the party. The fact that the party has failed to make an impact on the general people is evident in the fact that though the party had put forward candidates in the past three elections, it does not have a single representative in parliament. That is why analysts tend to see Gono Forum as a political debacle.
Political parties, off and on, take to the streets with their political agenda and programmes, but these parties complain that Gono Forum is never to be seen. Yet speaking at the party’s council session, Dr. Kamal Hossain said, “Our initiative is to put forward an alternative to the prevailing sick politics. The committed workers of Gono Forum will pass this message on every day of the week to each and every household of Bangladesh. The people support our initiative. This fearless initiative is our gift to the people.”
He went on to say, “United efforts are required to stand up against powerful parties who dominate national politics through the use of muscle and black money. We, the common people, are the majority. We will not surrender to these forces. He will not remain hostage to them. We will free ourselves from the grips of their muscle and money so that we can unite to take up initiatives for national development.” In response to these statements, people have remarked that Gono Forum has given the people nothing but rhetoric.
Then again, there are those that feel that while Dr. Kamal Hossain may have failed politically, this veteran politician never fails to speak out in times of national crisis. He has been active in overcoming crises, has given pragmatic advice.
Mostafa Mohsin Montu is the party’s new General Secretary. He too is an experienced politician. He has been an Awami League leader, President of Jubo League, Vice President of Dhaka City Awami League and later its Secretary. He was elected MP in the 1988 election. He was also expelled from Awami League in 1992 and joined Gono Forum.
Gono Forum presently has 37 full-fledged district committees, the remaining ones being ad hoc. Concerning the party’s future plans, Mostafa Mohsin Montu says, “Gono Forum will continue its movement for a crime-free and corruption-free Bangladesh.”
While Dr. Kamal Hossain emerged from Awami League to create Gono Forum with just a handful of party persons, he was joined by a large section of leadership from the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB). Many of the Gono Forum leaders later left the party to lose themselves in Awami League. Leaders like Barrister Amirul Islam and Shamsuddoha are now inactive.
The founding General Secretary of Gono Forum had been Abul Mal Abdul Muhit, the present Finance Minister. The present Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid and Attorney General Mahbubey Alam had also been with Gono Forum, among others.