Election must be inclusive to end power struggle and bring stability and peace

Election must be inclusive to end power struggle and bring stability and peace

Credit: AsiaNews

Faruque Ahmed

The country is going to hold the parliamentary election in December this year but it is still not clear yet if it will be another chaotic event in absence of participation of the major opposition parties such as BNP in the polls. Many believe there is every possibility of one sided election again if the opposition parties remain unmoved on their demands for an election time caretaker government and dissolution of parliament, if there is no dramatic change of the situation in the ground.

There is a clear perception in the opposition camp including BNP, the newly formed Joktofront and left political alliance not in the Awami League led 14-party grand alliance that participating in election under the present constitutional arrangement will be suicidal except giving legitimacy to the election under the blue print of the government. But leaving the field vacant is equally risky that will make the nation to suffer more if a government loyalist party step in to fill up the gap.

As the stalemate on major issues including reconstitution of election commission continues, even Awami League leaders say they are not sure how the Prime Minister will handle the issue at the end. What may be the size of the present cabinet during election, if the Prime Minister will continue in office or hand over power to someone she trust the most to show her distance from executive power and engage in full time electioneering are some big questions. Even party general secretary Obaidul Qader said the Prime Minister is the only custodian of these top secrets.

Meanwhile, the government has ruled out the possibility of anymore dialogue with BNP – the major stakeholder on those sensitive issue. Many hold the view that if the Prime Minister can consult election issues with Indian Prime Minister Norendra Modi such consultation with the opposition parties within the country could prove even more useful.

The basic question as critics say is that if the cabinet continues in power and Awami League MPs take part in election with parliament not being dissolved, it means they are in waiting to hand over power from one hand to another; such election does not make sense. This is not election in real sense and not parliamentary system at all.  In the opinion of many and not without reasons that such election may be a name shake election which will not end the power struggle to give stability and peace to the nation.  It will add to renewed chaos.
But the government appears quite determined to unilaterally hold the election if needed with the unmistaken intent to return to power. But such election will not reflect the free will of the people to allow voters to exercise their franchise as owner of the state. It will spread chaos again. Rigging, election time violence, intimidation, voterless election, use of police power for ruling party candidates are some of the features that election in our time orchestrates.

Critics believe the present constitutional amendment has made holding free and fair election almost impossible. Only a new amendment to the  constitution can create the situation that the government in all intent will not. The system has made the people subservient to the will of a powerful party that demands unequivocal loyalty of the nation. It does not hold leaders accountable to the people rather people are required to be overtly faithful.

The election schedule is expected after October 30th but the ruling Awami League has already kicked off the formal electioneering campaign taking  a long train journey to the northern districts of party leaders led by general secretary and communication minister Obaidul Qadir. Using the Nilshagar Express they traveled to the north addressing gathering at 11 railway stations, besides two more stoppages that disrupted the train schedule by at least five hours on the way.
The party plans another campaign trip to Barisal by launch and one more to Chittagiong by road to seek vote for ruling Awami League led government to make sure what leaders say the continuity of development and democracy which may break down they say if BNP comes to power, Awami League leaders are telling voters seeking the votes that BNP tied to Jamaat has no commitment to the spirit of the liberation.

More significantly, when Awami League and its allies have already started electioneering campaign, BNP and the other opposition parties are still in total confusion how to handle the difficult situation let lose by the. BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia is in prison and suffering from various old age ailments. BNP has made it clear that they would not take part in the election keeping Begum Zia in prison and without resolving the major election time government issues.

But the government lack of flexibility and use of hard line in dealing with BNP leaders and workers least they can pull strength to take up vigorous election campaign is making the situation far worse. A major national daily on Tuesday reported that as election nears fears escalates in BNP camp.  Quoting BNP leaders it said their activists and supporters are in the grip of tension of arrest. Conspiracy for destabilizing the government is a common cause of arrest.
People wonder how an expatriate living in Oman can attend a meeting in Comilla with some others to pan destabilization. A paralyzed man at 86 is an accused in Bogra for joining conspiracy against the government. Over 150 people were reportedly arrested all over the country from human chain on September 12 organized to press home demand to release ailing BNP chairperson from jail.

As per report more than one lakh people mainly BNP activists and supporters have been made accused in 1200 cases across the country in the last 20 days. Moreover around 2,000 BNP men were arrested during this period. Party leaders claimed over 800 were sued in last two weeks alone from Narayangonj districts for alleged attempt of subversive activities. The situation must be more accommodative and tolerant, they say for a congenial election environment.

But Awami League is suffering from growing fear of conspiracy from various quarters to topple it from power. Their stake is too big and there is too little chance for them many believe to be accommodative at this stage to the opposition.

Credit: Weekly Holiday, Dhaka

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *