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11 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM

For an inclusive election

In my opinion Awami League has not created any obstacle for BNP or its associate parties to join the election
Abdul Gaffar choudhury
For an inclusive election

Sometimes I ask myself if Bangladesh is a country that is politically orphaned. Whenever something happens-either an internal political problem or a general election, some of the western powers, especially Britain and USA very quickly start giving sermons to Bangladesh which they themselves do not follow. A section of the local elite class jump to repeat those sermons and make the situation more complicated which does not go in favour of the interest of the people and the country. During the election of 2001 in Bangladesh we have seen what a divisive role was played by some western diplomats and some of the members of their Tuesday Club in Dhaka with the help of the so-called civil society who were their cohorts. This year when a general election is coming very soon the same 'foreign patrons' of ours and their local followers including some journalists and politicians who had lost their credibility among the people long ago coined a new slogan which sounds very helpful for a country like Bangladesh. The slogan is, An election with the participation by all. It means, that it is a 'pious wish' of our 'foreign patrons' that the election should be held with the participation of all the parties. Now in the country a section of our elite class are playing the same game using this slogan.

In Bangladesh there are a vast number of political parties-small and big who are eligible to participate in the election and are registered parties with the election commission. It seems that all 'foreign patrons' want the participation of these parties in the election so that it is not one-sided. Now in our country a section of our elite class utter the slogan every day. It is a very clever tactics. Under the disguise of a genuine demand they actually mean that they want election with the participation of BNP. If most of the parties do not participate in the ensuing election but BNP does, it will be a fair and acceptable one to them. Otherwise it will not be a fair or democratic one. Our so called foreign friends and a section of intellectuals cannot expose themselves by saying that they want BNP's participation. If they say so, they fear their real motive will be exposed and the mask of neutrality will be torn away from their


In 2014 BNP did not join the election at their own will. There was no valid reason for their not participating in the election. Awami League wanted them to join the election but they demanded to hold the election under the old caretaker system which was discredited in the past and then a provision was made to discard it in the constitution. BNP's demand was not accepted by the people and the outside world and that is why Hasina Government is still in power. This time also, BNP wanted to play the same old game and their foreign and local patrons wanted to make this game a success by a new slogan-An election with the participation by all. In reality this means participation by BNP.

This slogan is ominous. They want to prove to the people that if Awami League cannot bring BNP in this election it would not be valid. It is a clever attempt to pressurize Awami League to bring BNP in the election by accepting their whimsical demands. If their motive was genuine and honest they would have pressurized BNP to join the election under the party in power like any other democratic countries of the world. To assure BNP that the election will be free and fair they could say that the international observation of the election should be tightened up with an agreement with the government.

In my humble opinion, Awami League did not create any obstacle for BNP or its associate parties to join the election. BNP could demand that to create an atmosphere of free and fair election the government should release a large number of their party leaders and workers, allow their election campaign and that they will fight a legal battle to free their party leaders with a peaceful movement. If Awami League government did not agree to fulfil these demands they could appeal to the foreign powers to exert pressure on the Awami League government. The foreign powers, who pretend to be neutral they should say honestly that they want participation of all parties in the election including BNP and they should exert pressure or influence to bring BNP to join the election. At present there is no bar for BNP to join the election. Their friends inside and outside of the country should advise them to join the democratic process and not sermonize Awami League to bow down to the unjustified demands of BNP. They should give up their old game of 2001.

I said at the beginning that the sermons some western powers give to Awami League, they do not follow it themselves. In the past, the present Zimbabwe which was a British colony with the name Rhodesia was fighting for independence. British government arranged an election to hand over the power to an elected government. But they manipulated the election and created obstacles for Robert Mugabe's party, which was the largest political group in Zimbabawe so that they could not participate in the election. They helped their henchman Bishop Muzorewa to win the election and to form the government. The people of Zimbabawe did not accept the election as a valid one and Bishop was ousted from the power within a short time. Ultimately Mugabe won the power and formed the government. In Pakistan in the 1970s election the second largest political party National Awami Party under the leadership of Maulana Bhashani boycotted the election both in the east and west wings. Awami League and Bhutto's People's Party won the election in the two wings respectively. Eventually, Awami League in Bangladesh and People's Party in Pakistan formed the government. Nobody said that the 1970s election was not valid and the two governments were not legal without the participation of NAP (Bhashani).

In present Bangladesh, a general election will be incomplete without the participation of the second largest political party, BNP. As there is no obstacle to participate it is absolutely necessary that BNP should join the election at their own initiative. It is not binding on Awami League to join a rat race to pursue them. The task of Awami League sitting in the government is to create a favourable atmosphere for a free and fair election. BNP should be allowed to run their election campaign without police torture. Police should not harass them in the street when they are engaged in peaceful movement. Government should release the large number of political detainees from the prison and not only BNP but all the contesting parties should get equal opportunity to participate in the election. Our so called 'foreign patrons' and the politically motivated so-called intellectuals should not hide their motive behind the slogan-An election with the participation by all, which actually means election with the participation of BNP. Awami League should not bow down to BNP's unjustified demands but encourage them to join election with equal treatment. Otherwise, if Awami League wants to please BNP's foreign patrons and submit to BNP's unreasonable demands that will be accepting a defeat before the election.  Ultimately this game will not help the democracy in Bangladesh.

London, Thursday 8 March, 2018



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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