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The Lesson Awami League and BNP to Learn from Local Election

Written By: HarunurRashid
20/06/2013 23:33 20/06/2013 15:33
Contemporary Debate

Sounds strange, but BNP is not celebrating its resounding success in the city corporation polls, nor does Awami League seem to look to have received a deadly punch in the election bout. What makes a difference from the past is the way the winners and losers are embracing each other and accepting the results in good grace. This has never happened in the national polls for many decades ever since we introduced the parliamentary form of democracy in this country.

Anyway, the fact that it has happened in the local government polls is a good sign and gives us reason enough to look forward to having a new ethics in election contests. This reminds me of the elections in Salimullah Muslim Hall (so it was called at that point of time) where as soon as the election results were announced, the winners and losers would shake hands and briefly address the gathering – the loser congratulating the winner and accepting the results in good grace assuring the winner to work together, and the winner profusely thanking the loser and seeking his cooperation in making the tenure of office a success.

The people, however, have no reason to be elated at the sight of the mayors embracing their defeated opponents. Already, cracks are beginning to be in sight and the results are being interpreted by both camps from their own points of strength.

The BNP thinks it is a clear mandate of the people in favour of a caretaker government; hence AL should bow before the public and have the national elections under a caretaker government. But AL thinks it has proved beyond doubt that a free and fair poll is possible without a non-elected body acting as the interim government – the Election Commission has proved its mettle and so BNP should now have no reason to resort to violence to have a caretaker body in place to oversee the national elections.

So the two major parties are still inside the ring taking a pause before they make the next move. But Awami League has to analyse the reasons for its complete rout in the local government elections before they face the acid test a few months from now. The homework is not difficult to do. A look into the pages of daily newspapers of the country is just about enough to find out its weaknesses, contradictions, diddlings and fuddlings over the last four years.

Politically, BNP’s conduct during their tenure is not that clear and transparent and now the party does not seem to be a close-knit entity. So, they too should be doing their own homework. 

I would like to remind them both that some mistakes proves too costly for the party and ultimately for the nation. BNP could not withhold its greed for one parliamentary seat at Magura and that finally turned out to be too expensive. BNP did not accept Ninian’s proposal which proposed the incumbent PM as the head of the interim government, but since AL wanted one member more than Ninian’s half and half, BNP turned down the proposal. In both cases, a BNP’s sensible decision would have changed the history of the country.

Again, when Professor Iajuddin made himself the caretaker head, Hasina accepted it. But Iajuddin was dictated from outside to declare Ershad’s participation void. He did and Hasina rightly withdrew her support for Iajuddin as the caretaker chief. And the rest of the history how BNP had to pay for that decision is known to all. All these mistakes have been too costly. And now BNP is facing another historical moment. It cannot afford the luxury of another mistake. Similarly, Awami League too has committed a few mistakes. It hailed the military takeover of Ershad in 1982. That helped stabilize the dictatorship. 

Secondly, AL’s participation in the 1986 national elections was yet another mistake which lingered Ershad’s regime. After the 1996 election victory, Hasina’s full-throated support for Joynal Hazari and Shamim Osman along with an all too obvious pro-Indian stance went a long way in rousing public resentment. And if the reader is interested to know what blunders have been committed during the last four years, he may give a quick look at some of the vernacular dailies supposed to be leaning towards her policies.

Two things, however, stand out as principal factors – corruption at different levels and a diplomatic fiasco at key international levels. 
Above all, no party should forget it is a country with an overwhelming Muslim majority. We have not forgotten the two contestants in the boxing ring and we will be watching with keen interest what move they take next. 

Meanwhile, the UK daily The Guardian has predicted a blood-dimmed future as it thinks “the eighth most populous country in the world will be plunged into chaos in the run-up to the poll”.

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Politics of Bangladesh National Election Caretaker Govt BNP Awami League 


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About HarunurRashid

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  • Name: Professor M Harunur Rashid
  • From: Dhaka
  • Nationality: Bangladesh
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    Professor Harunur Rashid is a Cambridge Gradute, former professor of North South University, now Teaching English at International Islamic University Chittagong(IIUC), Dhaka Campus. Contributing as an Associate Editor of The Independent and former DG of Bangla Academy.


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