In around six months, the 12th National Parliamentary Election is slated to take place. In preparation for the election, both the ruling party and the opposition parties have intensified their efforts. Three terms in a row have been held by the ruling Awami League. The main opposition party in the nation, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), is calling for a caretaker government during the election because they lack confidence in the incumbent to conduct a free, fair, and credible election. The enactment of a caretaker government during an election is currently the main goal of the opposition parties, who are led by the BNP, despite the fact that this demand is currently unconstitutional. Therefore, the opposition, including the BNP, should instead concentrate on running in the elections while taking Bangladesh’s citizens in confidence.
At a rally in the nation’s capital on July 12, BNP will make the announcement regarding its one-point movement calling for the resignation of the government and elections under a caretaker government. Similar-minded political parties to the BNP are also likely to make announcements regarding the one-point movement on the same day. The opposition leaders reaffirmed their commitment to refraining from undertaking any strenuous initiatives at this time unless they are compelled.
The ruling Awami League stated that it is not concerned by the opposition parties’ one-point demand, including the BNP, for the resignation of the government. According to Awami League, the BNP’s one-point movement is nothing new, and the opposition party’s campaigns since 2014 have all been focused on forcing the resignation of the government. Even the BNP’s movement, which was started in December of last year, aimed to overthrow the government. But the party’s attempt was unsuccessful because Awami League continued to rule the streets. The opposition does not possess the resources to overthrow the government through mass protests, according to the ruling party.
On May 11, 2011, the Supreme Court declared prohibited the constitutional provision that mandates an elected government to transfer power to a non-elected non-partisan caretaker government to organize a new parliamentary election on completion of its term. Later, on June 30, 2011 parliament dissolved the caretaker government system enabling general elections under elected partisan governments.
According to BNP leaders, the existing leadership will be compelled to acquiesce to their demand that the next election be held under a non-party government. Their threats are getting more violent as a local BNP leader even threatened to kill Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The country’s citizens understand that the BNP’s movement on the caretaker government will not benefit them. The government has stated unequivocally that there would be no negotiation between the ruling Awami League and the BNP regarding the caretaker government system, which the court has dissolved.
As the next legislative elections approach, the leadership of BNP is clearly unsure about what to do. While some may wonder if the BNP has failed to capitalize on its goodwill and momentum after their rally on December 10 of last year, the reason that BNP’s campaign gained public pull last year was that it was the first time in many years that the party raised issues relevant to the people rather than those relevant to the party’s own interests. Last year, the BNP was able to rally its workers and capitalize on popular sentiments, but it failed to conduct a continuous campaign, which frustrated many of its workers.
The BNP and other opposition parties should now concentrate entirely on their election campaign. They have squandered a lot of time seeking foreign assistance. But that won’t help much because no country can refute Sheikh Hasina and her government’s contribution to Bangladesh’s huge development, which is readily apparent to the rest of the globe. Furthermore, when the world is shifting towards bipolar power, if BNP is successful in attracting support from one side, AL will receive support from the other. If the BNP-Jamaat alliance resorts to violence, the people will reject them because Bangladeshis are inherently peace-loving and are fully aware of the BNP-Jamaat’s past fire terrorism.
The BNP and other like-minded parties need to make every effort to boost public trust as they prepare for the next election. The concerns that are troubling the populace should be brought up, and they should make it clear how they intend to deal with those issuesif elected. If BNP keeps concentrating on the simpler method for them to gain power, people will not take the streets or go to the polls to vote for them. In the coming months, the opposition’s politics must center on the wellbeing of the people.
Additionally, facing the challenges of the upcoming election, the opposition parties should effectively organize their own parties from within. Trade in nominations like in the previous election will not benefit BNP. They must, along with other opposition parties, nominate candidates who are well-liked by the populace or are political veterans. The BNP’s endeavor will be challenging as a result of Begum Khaleda Zia’s illness. They won’t be able to mount a strong challenge to the ruling party, led gallantly by Sheikh Hasina, without a coordinated effort. BNP’s alliance with Jamaat may also backfire for BNP as their own leaders at different locality will not like to share the seats after remaining out of power for 17 years and the people will not forget the anti-sovereignty acts of Jamaat-e-Islami.
Most importantly, it is the duty of the opposition party to assure the ruling party leaders and activists of a peaceful power transfer process. They must promise that, the ruling party leaders or workers will not face any threat like; ferocious oppression of the BNP-Jamaat alliance after 2001 election win, if the opposition comes in power. After several acts of BNP-Jamaat, political trust has disappeared from our country and the current opposition parties are somewhat suffering for that mistrust. Hence, it is important that, BNP and other opposition parties commit to maintain a peaceful political environment after the election rather than posing threats to the ruling party leaders and activists.
Before and after liberation, Awami League has been involved in all large protests or movements and it will not be easy for any opposition to remove them without proper democratic process. Any adamant act will create political chaos. Along with deep economic impacts of COVID-19 and subsequent Russia-Ukraine war, such chaos will only bring sufferings of the people. Moreover, taking shelter of foreign powers may help some party to win the election but that will never bring any good to the country. In this vicious process, both democracy and human rights will be violated.
BNP has been uttering their one-point demand for a long time. It is unfortunate that, no intellectuals or veterans are acting to initiate dialogue or compromise between the ruling and opposition party. Everyone is supporting some side. For the sake of people’s welfare, the intellectuals should take initiatives to bridge the gap between the two sides. It is time we portray some nationalist mentality considering the wellbeing of the nation and its people.
We all want an election that is inclusive, free from foreign interference, fair, and credible within the parameters set forth by the constitution. The concerns of the populace like; high inflation, excessively high product prices, the energy crisis etc. must be addressed by all political parties, whether in power or in opposition. We believe that if democratic procedures are followed, the people of Bangladesh will be able to choose a government that will further the nation’s development in the years to come.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla