As 11th national election is knocking at our doors, we are hearing this word regularly now-a-days allover Bangladesh. We are all looking towards neutral judgment of the voters, neutral works of the Election Commission (EC), neutral actions of the law enforcers, neutral stance of the administration, neutral reporting by the media etc. This is closely associated with the concept of ‘level playing field’, the buzzword of the upcoming election though no one actually defined what can be the traits of ‘level playing field’. Addressing the issue of neutrality, the question is if it is possible for someone to be neutral and how to handle a situation which calls for neutrality. In our understanding, we believe that, it is not possible for anyone to become neutral or unbiased and especially in the context of elections.
Irrespective to all the responsibilities bestowed upon anyone of the society, we all actually take sides. We are all voters including the ones directly holding responsibilities associated with the elections. Deep inside we all know that we will vote for someone and truly we will have some sympathy towards that party or persons irrespective of the decision making environment. If that sympathy lies beneath our neurotic features, then it is not possible to be neutral. We might act neutral but in reality we are not. Not only in the context of the elections but also we remain partial at every stages of our lives.
In our families, every mother or father has the favorite son or daughter. Though they deny so but parents’ love is not unbiased. From the children’s side also, some are more affectionate to their mothers while some are dear to their fathers. In our society, it is usually believed that, sons are more biased towards mothers while opposite is for daughters. Everyone has someone favorite in the family and it is true for all families of the world. If we move to educational institutes, we have our favorite teachers, favorite students, favorite friends and even favorite chairs. It is true for all aspects of life. Hence, neutrality is very rare and may be a wrong concept when we relate it to any human.
Considering the harsh facts, it is impossible to act neutral. So, it is a new challenge to define neutrality in light of the human traits. But we still look for unbiased behavior from all the stakeholders associated with the upcoming elections. This requires defining neutrality in a new way. Neutrality will be to work and act based on the truth only and to be focused on the assigned responsibilities only while performing on a particular role. For example, the journalists can prove their neutrality by presenting the truth from all sides to the people irrespective of their self prejudice. They have to come out the thoughts over their choices when they present information for the people. Similar will be for the law enforcers, administrators, election commission, judiciary, election officials and others.
Overcoming the prejudice is going to be the greatest challenge during this election as has been already evident on many instances. But there is no way to carry out the assigned responsibilities while bringing in prejudice on the way of performing duties. For the greater benefit of the nation, the voters also need to think from a neutral viewpoint. While we are blindly opting for change in government, we also need to consider the continuation of the development works that are shaping up the image of Bangladesh all over the world. Along with that, we also need to think who is going to be addressing our issues more. Hence, if the voters cannot set aside their bias, they will not be able to choose wisely and the place we are standing right now requires critical analysis of our leadership to ensure continuous progress of Bangladesh.
The candidates from different parties are already in front of our eyes. We already know the pool from which we will choose our leaders of our constituency for the next five years. Now we need to learn about the background of these leaders and their contribution to the society and community. We cannot choose blindly. Moreover, in our constituency, we should collect the vote-seekers’ affidavit information. We need to know how they are accumulating wealth and if their wealth has gone up during the last few years and on what basis this growth occurred. The voters also need to consider if the asset growth is recorded under the family members of the candidates which is a very common practice in the subcontinent.
Checking out the above mentioned information is very important to learn about the honestly and commitment of the potential member of parliament. If a candidate is not honest, then there is no possibility that he will be doing good works for the constituency setting aside his personal benefits. Honesty is one of the most important virtues of a good leader. When a candidate has no strong affiliation with the people of his constituency, he is expected to vanish after the electoral race is won. This is why, the voters need to think before making a choice. We must be careful not to choose a wrong leader irrespective of our prejudice towards a particular party or leader. It is the people with the power to choose their leadership and if they choose wrongly due to sheer negligence in verifying information before voting, they will suffer while taking the responsibility of their own sufferings.
Another important document is out for guiding our choice – the election manifestos. Despite holding great importance, we do not really focus on the commitments made in those documents. We should really dig deep into those documents but we have so little time after the declaration of the manifestos this time that it will not be possible for us to judge anyone or any party based on their manifestos. Moreover, the election manifestos of different parties are not really written in easy language considering the actual literacy rate or educational standard of our people as on most instances the voters find it hard and bookish. But nevertheless, we need to check those documents as that says why we should vote for a particular party.
Along with that, we need to learn about the constituency-based promises of the candidates as that directly address our issues. If we find coherence between the promise of the party and that of the leader, then we can be assured that a particular issue might be solved. Without learning about the commitments of the leaders and the parties, we should not vote according to our bias. If required, we must take the help of some experts or learned ones to understand the manifestos and commitments in detail.
Many will try to influence the voters with unrealistic promises, many will try to influence with money, many will try to tame with muscle, many will cry, many will hug and others will do so many things to take our votes. It should not be enough this time to grab your right to contribute in the development of the country. We should put aside bias or emotion and should take all decisions according to the books. It will really ensure our societal welfare as well as nationwide developments.
Unfortunately our fellow countrymen are mostly biased. They easily believe the fake promises of the leaders they are biased to and they even try to justify the ill works of these leaders. We are human and also we have the ability to think rationally. We cannot be so blind to vote for someone without judging their background, commitment, ideology and potential to work for people’s welfare.
Bangladesh during the last few years has excelled in different areas and we have held our heads high in the global forums. Alongside the change in the status of our country if we cannot improve ourselves, then this development cannot be sustained. Along with new technology, widespread education, change in lifestyle and many things else, we also need to be more aware of our responsibilities.
We need to realize that our votes count and will directly contribute in making a better Bangladesh. With only 12 days, we should act rational. Keeping aside our bias, we should adopt neutrality so that we can perform our roles from wherever we stand to present a better Bangladesh for our next generation. We hope on Dec 30, Bangladesh wins.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC)