Bangladesh one-day international skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza has sparked a debate recently after he decided to run in the upcoming general election from his Narail constituency on a ruling party ticket. Mashrafee spoke to New Age’s Azad Majumder about his decision to join politics, his political motto during a recent interview. Here are the excerpts:
NA: In what circumstances have you decided to contest in election
MM: I have been doing social work from the beginning of my career and to be honest, I have been influenced by my family about it. But whatever social work I’ve done, from the earnings of playing cricket, I didn’t feel it was enough. If I get the opportunity to work in a bigger space for the people of my region, if I can do something good from there, I’m sure it could come in good for the people of the Bangladesh. So that was my thinking basically. But if you ask about in a broad spectrum, I haven’t really thought about it. To be honest, it would give me a lot of opportunity to do social work and that was my main thinking.
NA: Cricket fans seem to have a mixed reaction about your decision. What is your take on that?
MM: There are two or three factors here. Firstly there are opposing parties in our country and you could say that they are also quite strong. So what happen in that scenario is that, the people, who support the opposing party, will talk about it and that’s normal. I’ve always said that, the type of politics I have seen, I have seen two types of politics. I have seen the 1990s and the next stage too. I feel in the 90s people behaved better with each other. A person would do politics, with his belief, but his behaviour would be acceptable. Right now, this behaviour has lessened a lot and it has got down to this. When someone new comes, people talk about him, criticize him and say different things about him. All I can say from my position, the people who are in a different party or believe in a different political belief I don’t have any disrespect for them. Even though I’m supporting my party wholeheartedly, but I have 100 per cent respect for them and will continue to have it. I’m saying this because every person has the right to support who they want to support. I can only respect the opposition from my heart, which I really do.
NA: Do you think joining politics may affect your cricket anyway?
MM: There are two things. Firstly, it varies from man-to-man. In my case, I know myself the best and maybe the people around me right now will also notice. Right now my total concentration is on cricket… If you think about the next eight months, even if my party gets in power, even if I win, there isn’t any real work until June-July. It’s also a matter of thinking about all these things. It may take like eight months or one year to get everything settled. I don’t think it will affect me playing in the World Cup. I’ll have to think about twice about reviewing what to do after that. If I can perform, stay fit for what I’d do, I think I’ll be able to understand it better and tell you better.
NA: How long do you intend to continue playing?
MM: To be honest, as I’ve said many times before, I don’t pre-plan anything. Almost every decision in my life was taken in the last moment. When I retired from Twenty20, I couldn’t inform you guys (reporters) before. The sports reporters I have known for a long time, I couldn’t even inform them. It was such an instant decision. That was a big decision of my life. So, what I want to say is that all my decisions happen in an impulse. I had planned to decide after playing the 2017 Champions Trophy. In the tournament our bowlers didn’t perform very well and I was one of them. But still I felt that I could carry on playing. From there I’ve continued playing till now. Similarly, after playing the World Cup I will be a bit clearer about what I should do. At the same time, I will have some bindings over me, how much I can sustain with, I will think about all these things then. But after 2017 my total focus has been on 2019. That’s how far I’ve planned about, to be honest.
NA: What changes do you want to bring in politics?
MM: Firstly, I need to get into it to understand how much work and scope for work is available to me. Mostly, I will work for the area that I’m contesting in. If I can win, of course I will try my best. At the same time, I will try to make sure people get their rights. Maybe I will understand my area of works better when I will go deep inside it. Then it will be easier for me to set up my mind.
NA: A large part of young people is against politics. What is your advice for them?
MM: We very often say many things about politician. But ultimately whatever we use in our daily life, we use things built by politicians. Maybe we had more expectations. Even if they [the expectations] were not fulfilled, we were using them. If someone does not want to come to politics, obviously it is his own decision, he has that liberty. But I think, good and qualified people should come to politics. Having said this, I am not suggesting I am qualified enough. But I think they should come forward. Young people are closely watching the problems that we are facing in our daily life. They are energetic as well. So if they come forward, I think definitely it would be better. But of course not this way, I mean through violent way. They should come in a positive way. They should come in a way so that they can work by respecting all.
NA: After cricket, are you planning to be a full time politician?
MM: It’s a tough question for me. But since I am sportsman, I will of course want if I can help sports. That will be most peaceful things for me. I have spent my life in sports. If I can do something for sports, contribute something here after the end of my career, there will be nothing more pleasing for me. It will be a pleasure for me and at the same time people will also get to understand me.
NA: Pakistan’s Imran Khan fulfilled his political ambition after retiring from cricket. Do you have similar ambition?
MM: To be honest, the level where Imran Khan reached, people cannot reach there always even if they want to. I don’t also think it that way. To be honest, my desire is to do something for sports. Imran Khan reached a level, since I am sportsman, my wish is limited here. I will work for my area to see if I can do something good. By working for my area, if I can help sports I will get peace, because both will then be my known place.
NA: Do you have any plan to work beyond your constituency?
MM: You see every people work in a designated area, and then it spread all over the world. I get cooperation of people from my area, like local politicians, who have experience of doing politics over 40-45 years, if we can work with a combination I believe that people will see something good. But I cannot go beyond my area. I work here and if people take two to three things from there that will be a help. You will find a change then. The other thing is that everyone works in his own area and my area is Narail. People from the area also have a right on me. I have played cricket for 18 years. For my area I founded a small foundation and did few works, but people may have some expectations from a greater perspective. It’s important to think about that.
NA: You are already a leader in the dressing room, if any of your team-mates wants to come to politics what will be your advice?
MM: Here you have to have your own desire, own freedom of choice. If somebody wants, or I think he should come forward. People from society always remained concerned what can be done here in politics, there are plenty challenges. It’s true the challenges are difficult. If anyone from our dressing room needs any cooperation, of course I will do that, but it is entirely his own decision. At the same time, he must understand if he is mentally ready for it. If he is ready of course he will come.
NA: Do you have family support for joining politics?
MM: It’s a completely new thing for us. Supporting a party and getting directly involved with it is not the same thing. You can say this is a new chapter for our entire family. So it is expected that there will be some uneasiness. But we have to adjust with it. I believe everything will be fine with the passage of time.
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