Red line hits country’s political landscape?

Faruque Ahmed

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s outline for the next polls-time government and the BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia’s formula for the caretaker government have failed to defuse the crisis. BNP MPs joined Parliament on Wednesday to place the opposition’s outline of the interim government to the House as the government was repeatedly calling for it. But as soon as it was placed before the House, the Prime termed it as ‘impractical’ thus virtually rejecting the opposition formula only to bring the fight to the streets for the one to cling on power and the other to return to power through a free and fair election.

Meanwhile, tension runs high in the capital and all over the country over the past week as people keep on pondering what may happen on October 25 and afterwards when the nations enters the red line to start the count down for the new Parliamentary election in the next 90 days up to Jan 24, 2014.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken the unilateral move to hold the election keeping her cabinet in place and the present Parliament to continue in office to allow the incumbent MPs to contest and get re-elected to the next Parliament.
It also gives cover to her government as a legal entity, because if the Parliament gets dissolved after the full five-year tenure, the compulsion that only an elected government can continue in office will become void as soon as the Parliament will cease to exist.
So she has got the 15th amendment to the constitution scrapping the caretaker government in one hand and restructured new constitutional arrangement on the other which only allows her in the present situation to run the show denying a free, fair and credible election to the opposition. She is therefore determined to continue the Parliament even by breaking the global Parliamentary norms and the compulsion that the incumbent Parliament must cease to function to make room for election to the next Parliament.
People question: Is it not a move to capture power again through a stage managed election? In the process she has already turned the country into a virtually one-party state under the cover of the 14-party alliance. We are afraid October 25, God forbid, may herald the beginning of a highly volatile sad chapter in the country’s history as the BNP-led 18-party opposition has given the call for a rally in the capital, in addition to Chittagong and Khulna cities and to almost all districts to protest the government unilateral move to hold the election without resolving the caretaker issue.
Why October 25 has become a watershed and scares the government so much is a big question. The answer may be that the count down to 90 days electioneering process begins from this day and the Prime Minister has defied her previous commitments to put the Parliament to recess from that day and instead decided to continue the sessions up to November 7. She is taking all such arbitrary moves which are in direct conflict with the constitution in many cases while the opposition is calling for total dissolution of Parliament for a level plying field to pave the way to a free and fair election.
Many people tend to believe that the leader of the Opposition BNP chairperson may declare the continuation of the session of the present Parliament as illegal and may give a call to the nation to resist the government ploy as it is violating every Parliamentary norms and constitutional rights of the people to snatch the next election to return to power.
Meanwhile, the entire country has already come under an undeclared emergency rule. Police have put ban on holding of rallies and meetings in metropolis Dhaka and Chittagong to deny BNP and its allies to hold their rallies. They have put the ban in the capital from early last week while new ban has been imposed on processions, meetings and rallies in Chittagong city on Wednesday last to foil BNP’s move to hold the rally in the port city.
In both the cities the ruling party Awami League has also given call to hold their own rallies to counter the opposition and reportedly asked local level leaders and workers to work with police to disrupt opposition rallies. Similar reports pour in from Khulna where city Awami League leaders have asked party workers of the nine upazilas under the districts to come to the city with full preparations. This is a war like situation in which police are carrying out mass arrest of party workers and professionals throughout the country. Every move so far by local mediators and also by members of the international community to end the crisis has failed to work out a compromise.
Pointing to government politicization at every level of administration and judiciary, the opposition argues that there is hardly any chance to avail of uninterrupted political environment to run election campaign by the opposition. DCs, SPs and such other local administration officials have been manned by hard core ruling party loyalists. Observers say, judiciary is properly tuned from lower courts to the highest level to deny fair hearing of complaints. Parliament now works like an extension of the Awami League working committee. People believe the Prime Minister can bring new amendment to the constitution any moment to end the stalemate. It may take only a few minutes for her to change the constitution which they had earlier showcased during the passage of the 15th amendment.
But the matter of the fact is that the Prime Minister is not willing to move a ‘hair’s length’ from her stance while she remained intent on holding a unilateral election. But will it be possible? The answer is: it may be possible for a short term but absolutely impossible to sustain it in the long run. Meanwhile, the moves by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon US secretary of states John Kerry to help work out a compromise have failed to produce results.
Now the county is posed in all intent to end in a one-party parliamentary dictatorship where the democratic rights of citizens and opposition political parties will be drastically frenzied to end in their slow elimination. On the back of it, the other scenario may that that they would resist the move and the country will thus enter into a phase of bloody confrontation, which is most undesirable.

Source: Weekly Holiday

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