POST TIME: 10 February, 2018 12:40:57 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 10 February, 2018 09:38:03 AM
Inclusive polls ‘now a challenge’
Abu Jakir

Inclusive polls ‘now a challenge’

With BNP chief Khaleda Zia being sentenced to five years in prison, the equation for holding the next general election in a participatory manner has become more complicated, say political analysts and civil society members. Many fear that if the BNP decides to boycott the polls, the nation might witness another one-sided general election. Although the 11th parliamentary polls are scheduled to be held at the end of the year, the two major political parties are still at loggerheads over the type of election-time government.

The BNP-led opposition alliance has long been saying that it would not join any election if it is held under the Hasina-led administration. But the Awami League (AL) is sticking to its guns that the election would be held under the Hasina-led administration, just like the one in 2014.

Furthermore, the conviction and sentencing of the BNP chairperson has worsened the enmity between the two rival camps.

The conviction has cast

doubts whether Khaleda, a three-time prime minister, would be allowed to participate in the polls.

BNP insiders said the party would in no way join the election if Khaleda is not allowed to take part in it and if it is held under a partisan administration.

BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said it is stupidity to think that the party would join the election if Khaleda is kept out of it. “It’ll be nothing but stupidity to think that anyone of the BNP will join the polls if its chairperson and senior vice-chairman (Tarique Rahman) are kept out of the election process.”

Expressing his doubts, chief election commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda had earlier told the media that the election would not be inclusive without the BNP.

“Definitely, the BNP has an important position in the county’s politics. The election won’t be a participatory one without its participation. I had said it earlier and still I’m saying so,” the CEC said.

Talking over the issue yesterday (Friday), Dr Md Nurul Amin Bepari, professor of the political science department of Dhaka University, said the political crisis in the country would deepen if Khaleda Zia’s party boycotts the election again. “Yes, the equation of holding an inclusive election has become complicated with Khaleda Zia landing in jail. We need a compromise between the two major political parties. But in the present scenario, the Election Commission will face an uphill task to make the election participatory,” he added.

The Dhaka University professor said there is a perception among the people that the Sheikh Hasina government wants to hold the polls with the participation of a faction of the BNP. If the government does it, the next polls too will be controversial, he added.

When contacted, Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan) secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumder said there is a longstanding disagreement between the two political rivals on how the election should be held. The ruling party says the polls will be held in line with the constitutional guidelines, while the BNP demands that the polls be held under a neutral administration.    

“The issue is election. So, we should come to a negotiated settlement to overcome the political crisis. But the chief of a major political party has been sent to jail and this will create more instability and uncertainty in the country,” he added.

Prof. Emajuddin Ahamed said this is not the right time to say that the next polls will not be participatory. As the BNP is a party of the masses, it wants to join the polls, but the AL-led government is trying to keep the opposition party away, he observed.

BRAC University teacher and senior journalist, Afsan Chowdhury, said the hope of making the next polls participatory is uncertain. The next polls will be held as per the will of the Sheikh Hasina government. This will prolong the political deadlock in the country.

“Legal practice is not done in our country. We practise politics in every issue. So, the fate of the next polls depends on whether the government wants a participatory election or not. But I think the next polls will be held with the participation of a faction of the BNP,” he added.