No to farcical election and yes to democracy

By Md. Shamim

In any democratic system of governance, elections are meant to be the means to express the popular will and to select representatives through a free, fair and competitive process. But the way in which 10th parliamentary polls was held on 5 January, we cannot except it as a real democracy. This election would have herald a new democratic era for Bangladeshi had it been inclusive, it is now being marked as a black day in the history of our democratic polity. This election has now turned into a farce and a joke because it was held by keeping the opposition leader under house arrest, BNP offices closed and unleashing state terrorism. All though all most all political parties, organizations, professional bodies, eminent citizens, editors and many countries and international organizations including the United Nations and Commonwealth, the USA, UK, Canada, European Union, Japan and China and mass media both at home and abroad had urged the government to postpone the election, the ruling Awami-league held an one-side election in an unpleasant manner. Now our Awami-league leaders appear to be engaged in a senseless competition of doing worse than the opponent and causing deeper self-embarrassment, holding the fate of 16 million people hostage in the name of democracy. They have not shown any sensitivity to the hardships and human tragedies of the victims of violence, not lest to losses incurred by the society and economy for now and for days to come. They are marking politics difficult for true politicians, and creating their own enemies. Apart for holding farcical polls, there have been crises over general election on two occasions since the restoration of democracy in 1990. In 1996, the Al boycotted the February 15 polls, waging a movement to introduce the caretaker government system to oversee elections. The short-lived parliament formed through the polls led to another election in June the same year widely considered as unblemished. The election in 2001 also sailed through under a caretaker government. But then in 2007, the BNP tried to tweak the system to have its person of choice at the helm of the caretaker government. The situation became so volatile that the election couldn’t be held and an army-backed caretaker government took over and stayed in power for two years until an election in December 2008.

Five years down the line, democracy once again faces a challenge, tougher than ever before, as the Hasina-led government cancelled the very caretaker government system that she had fought for so vigorously. None of the western countries has sent any election observer, as they believe that this election excluding the BNP will not be credible. This election and its result would remain as an inglorious chapter in the glorious history of Bangladesh Awami League. Therefore, it must take immediate step to rectify the folly it has made by calling for an inclusive 11th Parliament if not annulling the result of this questionable election. In fact no one could claim to be gainer out of this election.

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