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25 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 25 February, 2018 01:01:13 AM


Politics heading for ‘confrontation’

Abu Jakir
Politics heading for ‘confrontation’

With Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announcing that the next polls will be held on time even if the BNP boycotts it once again on the plea of Khaleda Zia’s imprisonment, the country seems to be headed for a political confrontation. According to AL leaders, they have nothing to do if a political party does not take part in the next polls, scheduled to be held towards the end of the year.

However, the BNP says that the AL “will not be allowed to score goals in an empty field”.

As it is, there is a longstanding dispute between these two major political parties. The Khaleda-led opposition alliance has long been saying that it would not join any election held under the Hasina-led administration. But the AL is sticking to its guns that the next elections, too, would be held under the Hasina-led administration, as it was done in 2014.

Furthermore, the conviction of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, who has been sentenced to a five-year jail term, has worsened the enmity between the two rival camps. The conviction has cast doubts on whether Khaleda, a three-time prime minister, would be allowed to participate in the polls.

The situation took a turn for the worse when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Feb 20 asserted that the next parliamentary election would be held in due time, in line with the constitutional guidelines, no matter BNP joins or boycotts it in the aftermath of their chairperson Khaleda’s imprisonment in a graft case.

Hasina, also the AL president, made the remarks addressing a press conference, organised to intimate the outcome of her recently-concluded visit to Italy and Vatican City, at her official residence Ganabhaban.

Within hours of this, the BNP called a meeting of its highest policymaking body at Khaleda’s Gulshan office and decided that the party would not join the next polls if Khaleda was not allowed to join it and unless it was held under a neutral administration.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said people would not allow the AL-led government to hold another lopsided general election like the one on January 5, 2014.

Talking over the issue, AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif echoed that the next general elections will be held in due time even if BNP or any other political party doesn’t take part in it.

 “But I think the next parliamentary election will be inclusive one as many are waiting to join the polls,” he added saying that they would not request any political party to take part in the next general election.

“Each political party has democratic right to join or boycott an election,” he said.

When contacted, AL Organising Secretary Abu Sayeed Al Mahmud Swapan said the next polls will be held in time in line with the constitutional guidelines.

“Why do we think that the next polls will not be an inclusive one if BNP boycotts it? Candidates from different political parties are eagerly waiting to join the next polls,” he said.

Under these circumstances, political analysts and civil society members fear that the country may witness another one-sided general election, which may worsen the political crisis.

Dr Md Nurul Amin Bepari, political science professor in Dhaka University, said: “If the next polls are not participatory, the country’s political crisis will worsen.”

He, however, refused to comment on the Prime Minister’s statement about the next polls.

The executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Dr Iftekharuzzaman, said it is common for the ruling party to keep the main opposition under pressure. “The country’s current political crisis is nothing new. But right now, the people are in tension. I believe that a situation like 1/11 or that before and after the January 5 election will not be created in the country again. But something  might happen,” he added.

“Since the BNP doesn’t have adequate strength to wage a tough movement to press for its demand, the party may adopt a new strategy ahead of the next national polls,” he replied to another question.

Former election commissioner Brig. Gen. (Retd) M Sakhawat Hossain said the country’s politics is heading for uncertainty due to the unbending stances of both the AL and BNP. “Nobody knows in which direction the country is headed. To put it simply, the political situation is gradually deteriorating,” he added.

BRAC University teacher and senior journalist Afsan Chowdhury said the political crisis in the country will deepen as election time draws near. The AL-led government will try to hold the polls with the participation of only a section of the BNP.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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