From the Editor-in-Chief: The next election and the BNP

Enayetullah Khan
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
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It is the same old question again. Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, a senior figure in the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has let it be known that his party will not take part in the next election if Sheikh Hasina heads the government. His point is that if the BNP did not participate in the election in January 2014 with Sheikh Hasina leading the government, there is no reason why it should change its position regarding the next spate of voting in early 2019. That is bad politics and equally bad logic. Roy is only reconfirming the notion that his party has not gone for a rethink about its role in the electoral arena.


The fact of the matter today is that democracy entails a regular strengthening of the political process. That strengthening is only possible through keeping the political system in order. But what the BNP leadership has continued to suggest is that between the end of the term of a government and the holding of fresh elections, an unelected government composed of non-political elements be put in place. No one will dispute the thought that there was a time, especially in the early and mid 1990s, when it became necessary for a caretaker system of government to be put in place in order to have the democratic process remain on course. But to suggest that the caretaker system be adopted in perpetuity is really saying that democracy in its proper meaning should not be digging roots in the country. That is unacceptable, especially when nowhere in the world is there any instance of elected governments being succeeded as well as preceded by regimes that are not elected and that therefore are not accountable to anyone. Now is the time for all political parties, especially the Awami League and the BNP, to come together in ensuring that a parliamentary system as it functions in other countries and as it has been at work for the last few years in Bangladesh be consolidated in a way that will not raise any questions in future. For all these parties, the priority should be to devise the means of a strengthening of the Election Commission through developing its manpower across the country and its ability to enforce its directives in a true sense of the meaning. Nothing guarantees a credible election like a strong, independent Election Commission, as we have seen in democratic countries beyond our frontiers.


All said and done, the BNP should be taking steps that will add meat to the democratic structure in the country. And it should do it in the interest of our future generations.

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