Bangladesh is standing at the doors of the 12th National Parliament Election, which will be held in January, 2024. Surrounding the election, the leaders of the ruling party as well as the opposition is involved in exchanging political rhetoric. The voters are getting their share of fun and excitement in this exchange of words but this rhetoric should not be their basis of voting. The voters should rather focus on the election manifestos of different parties to tress out which party can bring the most benefit for them and for the nation.
Recently, the leaders of both the ruling party and the opposition are busy with exchanging words. They are often making dramatic remarks. Like; Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader said that, they have resolved their differenced with the US underhand, referring to the current turmoil between the ruling party Awami League and the US authority over the new US visa policy on Bangladesh, which is standing on the demand of a free, fair and credible national election. He was criticized for such remarks and he later admitted that, he used such language as people get attracted to such remarks.
The largest opposition party of the country, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has its own way to attract the people as they are almost every day declaring new ultimatum though they are pretty directionless right at the moment. For example; Senior BNP leader Amanullah Amanon 12 October, 2022 went as far as to say that after December 10, 2022 the country will be run by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and acting Chairman TariqueRahman though they could not create any such situation. The opposition leaders often provide even serious threats to the leaders of the ruling party. But BNP has failed on its claims and ultimatums on several occasions. Many politicians are currently involved in exchange of catchy remarks, which actually diverts the focus of the voters.
Here it is mentionable that, none of the ruling party or the opposition parties has any designated spokespersons. In democratic countries, all parties usually designate a spokesperson, who shares the party’s views to the people. But, in Bangladesh, different leaders are giving different opinions which often the party denies later as the personal opinion of that leader. It is not supportive of the concept of democracy. Hence, it is important that, the political parties of Bangladesh assign their own spokesperson.
Even though there are just three months until the 12th National Parliamentary Election, the political parties have not yet released their election manifestos. Voters should review the election manifesto or political commitment before casting their ballots in order to avoid being swayed by the candidates’ political rhetoric or muscle power and money.
Election manifestos play a significant role in elections in developed countries because voters evaluate the promises made by political parties. They also ensure that the government is moving in the direction necessary to accomplish the objectives outlined in the election manifesto. For instance, one of the key turning points in a British general election campaign is when a party releases its manifesto. Manifestos have more purposes than only helping the candidates win votes at election time. They lay out the political program that the party will pursue while in power.
However, the situation is considerably different in developing and least developed nations, and Bangladesh is part of this trend. Voters in this country are less interested with the election manifesto than they are with blindly supporting a particular party or candidate. Even the candidate’s background is not taken into account. Voters cannot hold their leaders accountable if they cannot obtain any pledges from them.
Recent days have seen a lot of talk about election-focused movements from various political parties. There are various demands made by the opposition parties. But if we examine their demands, they are all about creating an atmosphere that they believe would increase their chances of winning the election. However, it does not appear to be coherent with the concerns of the populace.Many movements with specific demands have been carried out throughout Bangladesh’s historyand the ones that were successful always put the needs of the people firstlike; the 1970 elections, the 1971 liberation war, the democratic move of the 1990 etc.
The media of our country often creates huge publicity of the political rhetoric to attract their audience rather than focusing on the true commitments of the political parties. The political activists mostly get attracted to such publicity but the general people only find fun in those promotions. Hence, our young generation is slowly losing their interest from the politics and they are not willing to go to the polling centers that we observed during the last few years. So, our media need to represent politics in a constructive manner so that, our people especially the young generation can relate and get motivated to participate in the electoral process.
The foundation of democratic principles is accountability. A manifesto therefore acts as a crucial benchmark for evaluating a government’s performance and ensuring that it is accountable to the electorate in accordance with the policies and promises envisioned. All the political parties should have declared their election manifesto by now but that did not happen.
The Bangladesh Awami League decided to formulate its manifesto for the upcoming 12th parliamentary elections after consulting the public on potential concerns to address about various areas of the nation. In a public notice published, the party requested thoughts from the populace and community leaders regarding the manifesto. Everyone was asked in the public announcement to send their thoughts to the Awami League President’s Office in Dhanmondi by email or post by October 20. While the opposition parties have yet to make any such announcements, it is excellent that the ruling party is putting together its electoral manifesto, despite its tardiness.
The election manifesto of all political parties should be indifferent on issues related to national history, national interest and basic development goals. There should be no difference on the matters related to the national history – like; the 1971 liberation war and the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Moreover, national characteristics like; secularism, freedom of expression, human rights etc. should be prioritized. Along with that, basic development goals like; ensuring basic rights of the people, women empowerment, non-resident’s welfare, safety and education of children, employment opportunity, social security, ensuring civil facility and unbiased justice system must be addressed as topline goals in the election manifesto of all the parties.
Moreover, the election manifesto of all political parties should contain their commitment to fight corruption, drugs, terrorism etc. for the welfare of the nation. They should focus on ensuring rule of law throughout the nation. The manifesto should provide a clear picture about what the political parties will do in short term, midterm and long term to take the country forward if the respective party comes in power. The plan should be clear and achievable so that people can truly analyze the outcomes.
The opposition parties often cry about the failure of education or health system of the country. The election manifesto is the tool to inform the people of their plan to address such issues if they come to power. The voters must analyze the election manifestos of different political parties even from previous election to know which party actually served the nation better. The political parties or candidates individually should widely campaign based on their party manifestos.Only if the voters cast their votes based on the election manifesto and hold the leaders accountable for their promises, then democracy will really prevail and the country will move towards further development.
The election manifestos of various political parties should be carefully compared by our voters, and they should also assess whether previous administrations kept their promises. They should vote only based on that factor because it will establish a standard of accountability and transparency in our political process. We are hopeful that the people of Bangladesh will choose leaders who are solely committed to their well-being and the advancement of their nation. It is imperative that people become aware that as the nation develops, so too should we as individuals.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla