Party-neutrality to be basis of BNP’s poll-time govt formula

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is preparing a formula for election-time government keeping several options for negotiating with the current regime.

The BNP leaders said party-neutrality would be the basis of their proposed poll-time administration capable of holding free, fair and credible general elections.

The main opposition political party in the country floated a 13-point proposal for reconstitution of the election commission (EC) to understand the government’s mindset, a top leader of the BNP told Prothom Alo recently.

Now, the party has concluded that the ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) government has not taken their proposal into cognisance at all while reconstituting the EC.

Despite the negative attitude of the incumbents, the BNP leaders are in favour of floating another proposal for an election-time supportive government, making a call for holding dialogue to the end.

Through such exercise, the BNP leaders want to give a clear message to all that the party is doing positive politics although some BNP leaders believe the government will not pay heed to their polls-time government proposal.

“However, the proposal will still help the BNP to garner public support and create an atmosphere for street campaign,” one of them said.

According to BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the party is preparing the formula for the election-time government.

“A formula with a few options will be placed before the nation shortly,” he said. Asked if the proposal is being prepared in the light of current constitution, Mirza Fakhrul said they are holding discussions keeping several options in view.

On 18 November 2016, BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia presented a 13-point proposal for the formation of a stronger EC to hold credible elections saying that the next commission must be constituted based on the consensus of all political parties ahead of the 11th general election scheduled to be held either in late 2018 or in early 2019.

Khaleda Zia then had said, “A facilitative role of an election-time neutral government is a must to enable the election commission offer the nation a free, fair and credible general election.”

She also said her party will spell out a formula for a neutral election-time government before the nation at an appropriate time.

Several BNP standing committee members said the party is gathering information about different types of polls-time governments in place in different countries around the world.

Members of the standing committee and several pro-BNP former bureaucrats and university teachers have been engaged in preparing the proposal. The final decision will be taken later at the party forum.

Jahangirnagar University professor and former member of Public Service Commission (PSC) Tareque Shamsur Rehman said elections in Bulgeria, Greece, Pakistan and Nepal take place under the supervision of a caretaker government.

An election-time government was formed with both the government and the opposition in Tunisia last time and election in Italy will also be held under a caretaker government in a short time, he added.

The BNP has repeatedly asked for elections under a non-partisan government although the caretaker government system earlier inserted into the constitution was abolished in 2011.

The party boycotted the 2014 parliamentary elections after their demands were not met.

The BNP chief is not yet ready to join an election under prime minister Sheikh Hasina, said party leaders.

In several internal meetings she told her party colleagues that the party will not participate in any election just to legitimise Sheikh-Hasina-led government.

BNP standing committee member Khandekar Mosharraf Hossain said BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia clearly stated that the BNP will propose a formula for election-time government.

Another standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said the election under a partisan government has never been free and fair no matter how strong the election commission is.

“An election commission is never neutral under a partisan government and elections of 1973 and 2014 are the best examples of that,” he added.

Source: Prothom Alo

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