BNP should bow to national expectations

Farid Hossain
Thursday, May 4th, 2017
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Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is wrong. His Bangladesh Nationalist Party is not prepared for facing the election test as he has recently claimed. Nor is BNP a party that genuinely has faith in the democratic process of election. It has the history of boycotting both general and local government elections just because the party’s top brass thought they were not going to win the race. The boycott, notably the poll in 2014, caused a further slide in the party with majority of grassroots activists and leaders doing a silent protest against the decision of the party chief Khaleda Zia and her heir apparent son Tarique Rahman.


BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul makes himself almost a laughing stuff when he claims that at least 900 BNP candidates are ready to take on the electoral fight for 300 parliamentary seats in the next national vote scheduled to be held in 2019. The BNP leader can be trusted on his claim. As he at the same breath introduces a controversial issue: the supervision of national polls by a non-elected administration. Interestingly, BNP has changed the nomenclature of its long-held demand for a non-partisan caretaker government to oversee the national vote now to an “assistive administration.” In Bengali the term is  “Sahayak.” What does this Sahayak means is not clear to many political pundits. Does BNP want an administration that will assist it to win the vote? Or what? What lies at the bottom is, however, its old demand for which it has been nagging for years. The reason why BNP insists on having an unelected election-time government is also not hard to understand.


First, it has little respect for democratic values and norms; second, it wants to have the cake before it is made i.e. the election must end in victory for BNP before it is held. In every democracy the incumbent government remain in charge of the interim (powerless in most respect) until the election is held (under the independent supervision of the Election Commission) and the new elected government takes over. In case of Bangladesh the current prime minister will head a curtailed interim government for three months of campaign, vote and swearing-in of new government. The interim government will conduct only the day-to-day operation of the administration and it is barred from taking any measure (like new development plans or funding of anything that may look like influencing the voters) related to have any impact on the vote and its results. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina headed an interim government like this in 2014. BNP boycotted the election and went extra kilometers to foil the vote through arson and petrol-bombing of innocent civilians besides causing colossal damages to the national economy. It faces a similar situation (rather a challenge) in the next national election as and when it is held. The ruling Awami League is getting ready for the vote, while BNP is not. Once again the opposition party has started dithering on its participation in the polls.


BNP is afraid of facing people’s verdict. Knowing well that the public mood is not in its favour BNP is trying to make some excuses. It is sticking to a position being fully aware that the demand has no political merit in today’s context of Bangladesh politics. Since the December 2008 parliamentary election brought Sheikh Hasina to power for a second five-year term Bangladesh politics has undergone a sea change in regard to political stability and people’s confidence on Bangabandhu’s daughter who has transformed herself in not only a national leader but also spread her wings regionally and internationally. Bangladesh has profound faith in Sheikh Hasina; the South Asia region respects her, while the world recognizes her as one of the influential international leaders.


A general election with Sheikh Hasina as head of an interim government is thus the most rational expectation of the people of Bangladesh. BNP should also fall in line with the national expectations.



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