POST TIME: 9 December, 2018 12:30:23 PM
Will this election pave the way for new leadership?
The world is now changing too fast and has become a global village where each country has some sort of influence on others
Abdul Gaffar choudhury

Will this election pave the way for new leadership?

The general election is almost at our door now. After 21 days the voters will cast their votes-either for or against the nominees of the contesting parties. Up till now the environment of holding the election is peaceful. There are a few stray incidents here and there but nothing serious. Some heavy weight contestants mostly from BNP and Jatiya party who were not eligible for contesting the election are now awaiting the result of their appeals. Hopefully some of the appeals will come through. Still there are allegations and counter allegations from both the Awami front and the unity front on each other's political conduct. In this respect BNP has lost some of its credibility because a candidate who was living in the UK and was convicted of serious crimes is now exposed as a convicted criminal who fled from London. Awami front has given nomination to some business magnets like Salman Rahman.
Like BNP, the Jatiya party of General Ershad had a great shock. The party General Secretary Ruhul Amin Howlader, who was the party's one of the top candidates was disqualified to contest the election. He was allegedly involved in money making in nominating the party candidates for the election. He was not only disqualified from joining the election, but was removed from the post of General Secretary by the party president General Ershad himself. It is now certain that Jatiya party will remain in the front led by Awami League, though Ershad is to some extent unpredictable. A foreign inspection team of the election met both the contestant main fronts in a joint meeting.

The entire world is now suffering from uncertainty including Bangladesh. In Britain the national unity is unstable with the Brexit issue. A mass riot has engulfed the entire France. Germany and Trump's America are passing through crisis after crisis. Compared to developed countries the situation of Bangladesh is much calmer and stable, and  most importantly one certainty is there, that if this situation prevails the election is going to be held on 30th December.

In the developing countries it is still a prevalent system that though the election is contested between two main parties but the actual fight is between the two leaders. Generally people cast their votes for the election symbol and the leader. In India's last general election it was Narendra Modi who swept the people with him, not his BJP party. In present Bangladesh also it was expected that the main fight will be between Sheikh Hasina and Begum Khaleda Zia. From 1991 till 2008 we have seen the fight between the two leaders. Sometimes Khaleda won the election and sometimes Sheikh Hasina won it. This year also it was supposed to be an election fight between Hasina and Khaleda. But Khaleda Zia was removed from the political scene and thrown into prison with some conviction given by the court.

Now there is a vacuum in the opposition camp. BNP very quickly filled this gap up by bringing in Dr. Kamal to lead their unity front. Dr. Kama who is an ex Awami-League is now an old politician and almost in retirement from the politics. He could unite some very small parties who has no mass credibility in the political field. On the other hand, the leader of the Awami front Sheikh Hasina has earned much credulity as a statesman home and abroad. Now it is a question that under a crippled and old leadership whether united front can match the strength and appeal of Awami front.

Dr. Kamal Hossain may be an old leader but without any courage or charisma. He does not enjoy the full confidence of BNP and Jamaat, the largest group of the unity front. In the past he has not passed a single normal election and this time also, though he is the virtual leader of the front he did not have courage to contest the election. It is certain that if Awami front gets elected they will have a credible leader— Sheikh Hasina to form the government again.

But nobody knows who will head the government if unity front wins the election. It is a paradoxical situation in Bangladesh politics now. Though both Awami front and the unity front have selected their nominees, mostly from the old groups and there are certain number of new faces these new faces will not hold the power immediately. So there is doubt whether Bangladesh will enter into a new era after this election with the majority members of the parliament from the old generation.

But there is also a hope.  The world in now changing too fast and has become a global village where each country has some sort of influence on others. The Britain after Brexit crisis and America after Trump would have a flexible and liberal policy for the world order. In the Middle-East in a sequence of Khashoggi murder Saudi Kingdom may collapse or have a great change which will affect the entire region. Pakistan may be more destabilized politically and in India Modi may come to power again without brutal majority. More and more changes will occur in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal which will affect Bangladesh politics also. If Awami front comes to power then the leadership of a new generation with new vision gradually will come to the forefront of the statecraft. The pragmatism of Sheikh Hasina's leadership will help and guide this change. I hope this is going to happen in the post-election Bangladesh after 30th December.

London, Thursday 06 December, 2018