BNP must respect democratic course to achieve political goals

Published : Tuesday, 11 January, 2022 at 12:00 AM

Bangladesh will have its next national parliamentary election at the later part of 2023. The process of holding that election is already ongoing as the President Md Abdul Hamid is seating with different political parties to reform the Election Commission, which will be responsible to hold the next election peacefully. Country’s largest opposition party BNP has already decline to participate in the dialogue with the President as they are demanding a caretaker government, fully separate from the current government, during the next general election. BNP remained absent in most of the democratic processes for the last decade to achieve their political agenda. But to really gain politically, they must respect the democratic process to have people on their side.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Thursday in a letter informed President Md Abdul Hamid that the party would not join a dialogue it was invited to. Confirming the matter, BNP secretary general MirzaFakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters that the dialogue would be pointless without a decision over the election-time government. Earlier on Wednesday, the president officially invited BNP for joining the talks on January 12 over the formation of the Election Commission. President Hamid opened the dialogue on the formation of the next EC on December 20. The current EC is scheduled to end its five-year term in February next.

BNP is already ongoing with protest in demand of their convicted chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia’s treatment overseas. Along with chairperson Khaleda Zia, BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman is also convicted in corruption charges. Tarique is currently in exile in UK while Begum Zia is critically sick but cannot be sent overseas for treatment due to the conviction.

Most registered political parties, including BNP, boycotted the 10th parliamentary election as it was held under a partisan government, annulling the caretaker government system following a court order. However, Awami League and its political allies joined the election. With BNP’s participation, that election might have been competitive for Awami League but BNP made that easy for the ruling party itself.

In 2018 election, BNP and its allies participated in the election but they were really not ready for that election as they were in doubt of their participation for a long time. Moreover, putting new leaders from their alliance in front did not really work out. They could not really connect with people. It exposed BNP’s lack of leadership as well as poor people-orientation. Hence, BNP is out of any significant political role for a long time.

BNP has been trying to create anarchy in the country in the name of waging movement with various non-political issues, according to ruling party leaders. This is true to some extent. BNP has relied on different Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam for making things right for them. But alliance with any anti-sovereignty or fundamental forces will take them further away from people. BNP should enhance the activities of their root level forces. Root level leaders of BNP are participating in the UP elections as individual candidates. BNP should have the courage to fight those elections under the party banner. Without a strong pool of root level leaders and activists, BNP cannot really come back in power.

Keeping aside their demands and protests, BNP is actually facing the challenge of strong leadership inside the party. They are trying hard to reestablish their party at a position of strength with the current leadership. But unfortunately, if something happens to Begum Khaleda Zia, there will be total chaos inside the party. Tarique Rahman will not be able to take control of the party due to his sentence as well as due to his lack of command inside the party. BNP is also trying to take their fight on the streets especially with the brutal force of their ally Jamaat-e-Islami activists. But people are not keen to join political fights on street now and BNP leaders are not really willing to walk the extra mile.

During the last 13 years in power, Awami League government has done many commendable jobs like; the huge development works, focused development in ICT sector, house for homeless people, spread of electricity throughout the country etc. People are also enjoying the benefits of those works. If the ruling government can finish all the ongoing development projects on time, then it will really change the landscape of Bangladesh.

But in this process, the problems of ordinary people, especially the middle and lower income group, were ignored to an extent. People are burdened with high inflation rate, extreme price of commodity products, higher and new taxes, multiple price increase of all utilities, inadequate health services etc. Corruption, spread of drugs, unsocial conducts, law and order situation, crimes under the party name etc. have come out as a serious problems for the ruling party. Though Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is committed to solve these issues, she alone cannot fight all these problems and it will take time.

BNP throughout the last decade is only fighting based on the issue of getting back to power. They almost did not address any of the people’s issue. Their activities prove that they think Bangladeshi people’s only duty is to bring them back in power. As they are completely ignoring the people’s issues, people are also ignoring them. Hence, they are quickly losing credibility. Many root level leaders and activists of the party has joined Awami League already and if BNP fails to make any impact in the next general election, then it will be very hard for them to uphold their political existence.

Awami League has served on their election manifesto and many of their promises during the last decade. But BNP has failed to even make such constructive promises to the people. Though they are fighting hard on the ground of caretaker government, they even did not claim that, they will restore the caretaker government system if they get back in power. Their top leaders are continuously providing empty threats of toppling the government, by punishing the ruling party leaders if gets power or to cripple the nation with vandalism if their demands are not met. Unfortunately, people do not associate with such stunts now-a-days.

BNP leaders must realize that, they have to follow the democratic practices even if that feels like a formality. They need to organize themselves and participate in every democratic platform so that their political representation becomes visible to the people. Moreover, they must stand beside the citizens on different public issues and must constructively criticize and guide the government. That will bring them back people’s confidence. People will not feel for them let alone vote for them, if they do not find BNP, the largest opposition party of the country, by their side.

Only by upholding the democratic stance, BNP can ensure its existence. From current position, BNP might not win the next general election. But they can be at the parliament with a much better number if they correct their mistakes and become a constitutional opposition again. They must come to the election even if it is held under the government. Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman won the 1970 Pakistan general election under the Pakistani rulers. With people’s support, BNP can win too. The demand of caretaker government will not be fulfilled easily. From history, we can see that, without Awami League’s participation, no demands were achieved through protests. With vivid experience of Awami League, it is almost impossible for BNP to achieve anything from the streets.

Only by being in parliament democratically, evenif as a strong opposition party, BNP can regain its position again. Otherwise, democracy will keep going with the weak Jatiya Party as the parliamentary opposition and BNP will not be able to daunt the credibility of the next general election a bit.

We hope the politics of Bangladesh truly upholds the democratic values and the government is not only challenged but also supported by a strong opposition party, which will push the government to ensure people’s rights. For that, BNP must find the right path and rather than changing the system, they must consider reforming the system after being a part of it. We hope BNP leaders talk some sense from now on.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and
Chief Patron, Bangabandhu
Shishu Kishore Mela

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