Revolution if people can vote: Emajuddin
Dialogue is essential to break the stalemate over national polls, especially when an incommunicado syndrome between the ruling party and the opposition remains a major barrier to fair elections, says professor Emajuddin Ahammed.
For creating a congenial atmosphere for credible ballot, he insists, parliament must be dissolved and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia released.
“Dialogue is necessary to address the pending issues including release of hundreds of thousands of opposition leaders and workers arrested recently, and for the sake of well-contested elections,” Emajuddin, a former vice chancellor of Dhaka University, told Prothom Alo in an interview.
His recommended steps for holding credible elections include deployment of the army personnel since, he pointed out, “the people have no confidence in the civil administration subservient to the political masters”.
“If people get the chance to vote, they will create a revolution. The military leadership must be put in place to oversee the voting process,” he said.
Emajuddin, known to be a pro-BNP intellectual, underlined the need for forming an election-time government excluding prime minister Sheikh Hasina, since he argued, the opposition parties had ‘not an iota of confidence in her’.
“Thanks to the current prime minister, two revolutionary changes have taken place for ruining democracy. There is no difference between state, the government and the ruling party. And while giving appointments and promotions in various sectors including law enforcement, education, health, and communications, merit and skills have been dropped,” the political scientist said.
Asked about pro-Awami League political science professor Harun-or-Rashid’s prediction that the BNP might get 60-100 seats out of 300 in next elections, Emajuddin quipped, “That is what the Awami League can get at best.”
“In 1991 elections, the party managed to secure 88 seats, a number which is supposed to come down… I don’t see any possibility of increase in the number of seats of those who have established a horrifying authoritarian rule in society,” he added.
Asked about the role of the great powers in Bangladesh’s elections, Emajuddin mentioned that the foreign friends must have reminded the authorities that the government had promised them to correct the flaws of 5 January 2014 elections.
“The prime minister herself admitted that the one-sided election of 2014 had not been a credible one,” he said.
On the AL’s tasks, Emajuddin said, “There is a serious dearth of good governance and self-rule. The nation will be ever grateful if the government takes meaningful steps in the two areas.”
He also expressed his conviction that for a participatory and acceptable election, technocrats from the BNP might be inducted into the cabinet and that parliament could be dissolved as per the constitution.
About the new opposition coalition of National Unity Front and future prime minister if the opposition wins the elections, he Emajuddin quoted its leader Kamal Hossain saying that the majority of the next parliament would decide on the leader. “I also have the same opinion.”
Dwelling on the prospects of acting BNP chairman Tarique Rahman, he said Tarique has popularity but “needs some time and training”. “I told him that I am ready to volunteer in this regard if there is time and opportunity.”
* This piece, originally published as interview text in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten as a story in English by Khawaza Main Uddin